The Burkland streamliner
(by Gene, Betty & Tom Burkland)
(Updated to November 25, 2008)
Tom Burkland at Speed Week 2001
(Photo by Ugo Fadini)
1985 - December
Tom sent design drawings home from a remote assignment at Kadena AFB on Okinawa, Japan, for a streamliner to go after Bob & Bill Summers' 1965 land speed record of 409.6 mph.
1986 - May
We bought two used Donovan Chrysler-style engines and a PILE of spare parts from Louis LaBash/Les Leggitt.
1990 - January
Tom took an unpaid leave of absence from his job as an aerospace engineer at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah, to come to Great Falls and start construction of the car.
1991 - September
Several of the F-16 aircraft landing gear tires we designed the streamliner around, and tested before we started construction, exploded during our final spin tests at far too low rpms - they weren't safe to use on the car!
1991 - October
The car was complete and Tom went back to work.
1992 - November
Gene & Betty and Tom & Linda (his new bride) attended the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada, to talk to tire manufacturers in attendance about HIGH SPEED tires. Mickey Thompson Tire Co. agreed to work with us and asked us to do some spin testing for them.
1993 & 1994 - Spring, Summer , Fall & any decent Winter days
We spun several sizes and styles of tires while assisting in research and development for M/T Tire Co.
1995 - May
We received 12 high-speed tires that fit our car from Mickey Thompson Tire Co.
1995 - August
While loading fuel and water in the car in preparation for Southern California Timing Association's Bonneville Speed Week, we discovered a cracked head on one of the caršs engines.
1995 - September
While preparing to go to Utah Salt Flats Racing Association's World of Speed, we broke the output shaft on one transmission AND found another cracked head on the other engine.
1996 - Spring
We replaced the output shafts on BOTH transmissions in preparation for USFRA's July tune-up meet where we planned to make several shake-down runs... if salt conditions allowed.
1996 - July 1 (Salt Opener)
The salt conditions were VERY poor - in fact bad enough to cancel the meet!
1996 - August (Speed Week)
We made our first ever run down the race course. Our timing slip reports 261.616 mph in the first quarter mile. Tom had a few problems with the shifting mechanism and ended up going outside the 3-mile clocks; but, according to our air-speed indicator and rpms of the car, his speed at that point was 370+ mph! All systems worked without a problem until the car coasted to a stop, when the engine bay overheated enough to damage computer wiring, blower belts, cables, etc.
1996 - September (World of Speed)
We worked all month on heat-proofing the engine bay, including a couple over-night sessions, to make the World of Speed meet. Because of numerous 'bugs' and problems, we weren't able to make a run.
1997 - August (Speed Week)
Made one good run with 298.132 mph in the quarter, 315.099 in the 3rd mile, 302.173 in the 4th mile, 88.675 in the 5th mile and a terminal speed of 37.604 mph. The course was very rough in the 3rd mile; Tom opened the speed brake and chute before the 3-mile marker. He gained approximately 40 mph in the quarter over last year's run and learned we can stop the car very fast. We broke a steering arm before leaving the push van on our second attempt.
1997 - September (World of Speed)
We were in line, ready to run when it started to rain and ended the meet.
1997 - October (World Finals)
Malfunction of shifters caused both clutches to spin and 'burn up' before the timing clocks.
1998 - August (Speed Week)
8/16 run: 293.177 in the quarter, 310.288 in the 3rd mile, 314.560 in the 4th mile, 265.628 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 207.833. The shifter malfunctioned in the 3rd mile. Tom just held the throttle at 30% through the clocks and opened the speed brake and one chute in the 5th mile.
8/18 run: 303.655 in the quarter, 322.196 in the 3rd mile, 361.462 in the 4th mile, 356.226 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 332.774. The tires were spinning through the whole run. Tom shifted from 4th to 5th gear in the 5th mile to try to get some traction - the wheel speed just went crazy - in excess of 400 mph! All of this was at 40% throttle!
8/19 run: 172.972 in the quarter, 164.706 in the 3rd mile, 143.667 in the 4th mile. The course was so rough we broke both transmissions. Tom shut off the engines before the first timing clocks and coasted through the others to gather data to compare to the wind tunnel data on the car.
1999 - August, September & October
The race course was far too rough for us to run our car. We did not attend any meets during 1999.
2000 - August (Speed Week)
8/13 run: 247 in the quarter 265 in the 3rd mile, 309 in the 4th mile, 345 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 360. This was the first run on the car where Tom used all 5 gears and ran all 5 miles. The track was very slippery - he spun the tires and dug trenches in the salt which made the body drag on all three miles of the course.
8/14: Replaced broken fuel pump shaft on one motor and checked the fuel pump shaft on the other motor.
8/15 run: 308 in the quarter, 324 in the 3rd mile, 358 in the 4th mile, 373 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 372. The car was running very rich. The riser line on the first parachute came unstitched on BOTH ends, dropping the chute on the race course.
8/16 run: 316 in the quarter, 332 in the 3rd mile, 359 in the 4th mile, 373 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 384. Still some problem with the fuel; trouble with first shift; car running rough.
8/17 run: 275 in the quarter, 283 in the 3rd mile, 294 in the 4th mile, 298 in the 5th mile and terminal speed of 290. Rear engine exhaust temperatures were still very low (around 100 degrees when they should have been 1000 degrees). Car was 'shooting ducks' - running rough. (We later found that the magneto on the rear motor was not functioning properly - for all practical purposes, these runs were made with only one motor!)
2000 - September (World of Speed)
9/20 run: 341.154 in the quarter, 361.043 in the 3rd mile, 405.282 in the 4th mile, 438.815 in the 5th mile and terminal speed 450.225. This was TOP SPEED OF THE MEET. BOTH risers on the high-speed parachutes broke and the low-speed parachute tore all of its panels, so the car ended up about 2-3 miles past the end of the race course stuck in the mud. The rear fenders were damaged by the mud, so we were unable to run again.
2001 - August (Speed Week)
Trashed gears on front blower during pre-race warm-up, then had to modify body to fit on top of replacement blower. At Speed Week, waited for over an hour to run, but car wouldn't start. Replaced batteries, but got news of death in family, so came home.
2001 - September (World of Speed)
9/21 run: 314.984 in the quarter, 330.415 in the 3rd mile, 304.327 in the 4th mile, 145.256 in the 5th mile and terminal speed 89.520. This was a parachute deployment test. All three new 'chutes deployed, although the rear riser deployment bags on the #1 and #2 chutes were destroyed.
9/22 run: 325.489 in the quarter, 344.109 in the 3rd mile, 387.984 in the 4th mile, 421.844 in the 5th mile and terminal speed 435.434. This was TOP SPEED OF THE MEET. The track was very slippery. Car was in 5th gear in the first mile. #1 chute failed to deploy, but #2 was okay. Tom was turning off course past the 7-mile marker at about 135 mph when the right tail brake hit the top rim of a mostly-submerged 55-gallon drum. The tail brake loose, started the car bouncing and turning sideways. It rolled 12 times before coming to rest on its side. Tom sustained a broken right arm (caused by his arm restraints) and two very black eyes. The car was severely damaged.
2002, 2003 to 2004, August
These years were spent repairing the chassis and completely rebuilding the body of the car.
2004 - September (World of Speed)
9/17 to 9/20: Had problems with upper body fit first day. Second day was too windy to run. Third day we warmed the car & got in the starting line, but rain & wind storm ended the meet about the time we were 4th in line.
2004 - October (World Finals)
10/14 run(?): Turned out at start after motors died when throttle was pushed twice!
10/15 run: 285.719 in quarter, 305.790 first mile, 276.668 second mile, 96.114
third mile, terminal speed was gibberish. This was a parachute test run. The #1 & #2 'chutes deployed perfectly.
10/16 run at 11:09am: 322.187 in quarter, 341.822 first mile, 386.204 second
mile, 418.425 third mile, and 436.161 terminal speed. This was TOP SPEED OF THE MEET and qualified us for Nolan White's AA/BFS record of 413.156, set in August, 2002.
10/16 run at 2:30pm: 311.663 in quarter, 331.114 first mile, 378.872 second mile,
415.616 third mile, amd 430.988 terminal speed. This set a new record in AA/BFS at 417.020.
No runs: salt too rough at Speed Week and World of Speed and World Finals cancelled.
2006 - August (Speed Week)
8/15 run: 303.199 in quarter, 321.243 first mile, 365.611 second mile, 398.807 third mile, and 410.997 terminal speed. This qualified us to be listed on the HOT ROD MAGAZINE TOP SPEED OF THE MEET trophy. The race course was wet & slippery. Tom let off the throttle at 4.5 miles to be sure to get between the clocks! All 3 chutes deployed perfectly - - - even the deployment bags survived unhurt & reusable!
2006 - September 27-30 (Private FIA meet)
9/27 run: entry to timed mile 399.576, kilo 407.013, exit from timed mile 403.198, average through timed mile 404.861. This was one timed mile in the center of an almost 12-mile-long race track that was a bit damp. Burned one piston, melted its sleeve & had aluminum splattered on another piston. Changed all parts & attempted another run on 9/29, when the cross in the front u-joint broke, cracked its protective shield & damaged the transmission, ending our race meet.
Salt conditions were not good enough to run the car.
2008 - August (Speed Week)
8/21 run at 10:10am: 185.800 in quarter, 179.406 first mile, 162.752 second mile, 146.272 third mile and 138.386 terminal/exit speed. The track was slick & rough. The car hit a chuckhole just as Tom was about to shift to second gear, causing him to hit the 5th gear. The Liberty transmission doesn't allow a downshift, so he coasted through the clocks to collect coefficient of drag information. This had been planned as a checkout run in preparation for the private FIA meet coming up in September.
2008 - September 22-26 (Private FIA Meet)
9/22 run at 5:54pm from the mountain toward freeway: entry to the timed mile 267.288, kilo 260.202, exit 253.234 & mile 260.153. There was a problem with the tach pickup, which showed double the actual rpms, causing Tom to short shift the car.
9/24 run at 11:53am from the mountain toward freeway: entry to timed mile 389.375, kilo 403.654, exit 417.172 & mile 403.328. A bolt jiggled loose on the fuel shutoff and two chutes failed to deploy, resulting in a wild ride through the pits. During a practice turnaround, we found a valve seat pulled out, so took it to SLC to be repaired.
9/26 run at 12:10pm from mountain toward freeway: entry to timed mile 392.300, kilo 405.013, exit 416.644 & mile 404.669. This run qualified for the FIA record.
9/26 run at 12:53pm from the freeway toward the mountain: entry to timed mile 424.871, kilo 428.703, exit 427.384 & mile 427.723. These two runs averaged out to 415.896mph, which is a new International record in Category A, Group I, Class 11, pending certification by the FIA. We did not break the kilo record.
2008 - November 25
The FIA certified our record!
(Text on this page as received from the Burkland family)
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