Ever since Dr Johnson declared 200 years ago that no man travelling at 20mph in a coach could possibly "continue to draw breath", there has been no shortage of nay-sayers. They said it over and over to Richard Noble and his team, but they went ahead anyway and in October 1997 ThrustSSC, driven by RAF Squadron leader Andy Green, smashed through the sound barrier to set the first supersonic land speed record of 763mph.
This absorbing and richly illustrated book tells of Noble's obsessive quest for speed, beginning as a six-year-old watching John Cobb's 200mph jet boat Crusader and ending in triumph in the Nevada desert. There is as much financial as technical detail--Noble imaginatively and profitably stalked the Internet for donations as corporate sponsors fell by the wayside--and a jingoistic subplot as the Brits and Yanks vied with each other to achieve the sonic boom first.
But mostly this is a human story of struggle, achievement and the peculiar meanings of success. "We'd got through this", says Noble, "we'd succeeded. But success can be very sad once you've got over the initial elation. Suddenly it's all over and it can never be savoured again." --Nick Wroe
The race to create the world's first supersonic car.
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