BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : NOVEMBER 20, 2000 ISSUE
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Getting Lots of Thrust--from the Net


Sitting motionless, the ThrustSSC (for supersonic car) looks like a sleek jet fighter with its wings clipped off. In fact, that's roughly what it is: a plane designed to hug the ground. Its two monster engines are Rolls-Royce turbojets designed for the Phantom fighter. Each produced 25,000 pounds of thrust when the car set the current land-speed record in October, 1997--763 mph. That wasn't much of a strain. The car was designed to reach 850 mph, or more than 100 mph past the sound barrier on the Nevada desert.

When Andrew Green, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, strapped himself in the driver's seat between the engines, he was at the wheel of the ultimate hot rod--a dragster that can jump from a standing start to 100 mph in only 4 seconds. Within 16 seconds, Green was rocketing across the Black Rock Desert floor at 600 mph. After just 30 seconds, the car approached top speed--and had traveled five miles from the start line. Green made some two dozen attempts, starting in early September, before breaking the sound barrier on Oct. 13, then setting the new record on Oct. 15.

These and other rich details of the ThrustSSC are chronicled at www.thrustssc.com. The site also describes the nonhierarchical organization that leader Richard Nobel considers essential to the success of venture projects. This site is the model for Nobel's latest startup, Farnborough-Aircraft.com. The new company will rely almost exclusively on Web site visitors to generate its finances. And like the ThrustSSC Web site, which contains blow-by-blow updates that Nobel and other crew members posted for the 200-odd companies that lent support, the Farnborough Web site will provide regular news on the F1's progress.

By Otis Port in New York

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ILLUSTRATION: The F1 (left) and the British Mosquito (right)

Getting Lots of Thrust--from the Net



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