Setting records at Bonneville Speed Weeks usually involves massive power and a bit of courage. The fastest cars use rockets or jet engines for propulsion. This doesn’t require a transmission or differential, as the wheels are essentially casters like those on a shopping cart. But there exists a group of racers who choose to send power to the wheels. Don Vesco wanted to reach 500 mph the old-fashioned way. So he dropped in a turbine from a Chinook helicopter and sent the power to all 4 wheels.
Connecting the wheels to the engine is easy, as the Chinook makes use of long driveshafts to transfer power front to rear. The problem is that salt has a limit when it comes to rubber tires. Just like our friends at Confederate Motorcycles, adding more power just creates wheelspin at top speed. Don passed away before his team could refine the aerodynamics, but in a YouTube video uploaded recently, their efforts paid off. Turbinator II used a strong tailwind to reach 503.322 mph, making it the fastest wheel-driven car. Unfortunately, to set a new world record they would be forced to run the opposite direction with only an hour of turnaround time. But the tailwind inevitably became a headwind, resulting in 493 mph. They took home a 2018 Hot Rod Magazine trophy for an average speed of 463 mph! Congratulations to Team Vesco on this momentous achievement!
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