The UK’s only rocket-powered drag car returns to Shakespeare County Raceway, Stratford-Upon-Avon, this coming May Bank Holiday weekend for its first full-fuel burn down the track.
Despite being hampered by difficult weather conditions, the team successfully accomplished a short burn at the Warwickshire track in April this year. Having now tested the car’s handling characteristics and drag-chute deployment, the team are confident in the car’s ability to sustain a full-fuel burn, which will propel Laffin-Gas to potentially record-breaking speeds.
Since the initial run a few weeks ago, the team have been extremely busy modifying the rocket car’s nitrous oxide fuel system. Designer and driver of Laffin-Gas, Carolynne Campbell, explains, “We discovered during the last run the g-forces present during the initial acceleration caused the nitrous to flow erratically into the rocket motors. To compensate for that, we’ve re-mounted all the gas cylinders at an angle of 40deg and re-jigged all the high-pressure hoses to fit the new configuration. The result is now pressure-tested and working fine and the car looks much better with a lower and neater profile behind the cockpit. More importantly the set-up now allows for forward ‘g’ much better and will make much better use of the nitrous.”
Laffin Gas’s four rocket motors work on the unlikely combination of nitrous oxide – better known as laughing gas – cardboard and recycled vegetable oil. Ignited by a small charge, the oil-soaked cardboard is burnt in a stream of nitrous oxide to produce a hypersonic gas flow. Laffin-Gas’s rocket motors were developed entirely by the team themselves, who can now justly claim to be amongst the most knowledgeable hybrid rocket motor engineers in Europe.
After successful winter testing of the rocket motor, and a very positive first outing, the team’s confidence is high, but tempered with caution: “This is drag-racing,” says Carolynne, “And it’s a very unpredictable sport. Even the best cars don’t go every time and the weather can always interfere, so we will need a bit of luck for everything to go well.”
Team morale was nevertheless boosted by a visit by Knut Soderquist, one of the most successful Top-Fuel owners in world, who helped Carolynne in the early days of building the car’s chassis. Lending his enthusiastic support to the project, Knut confirmed that the eyes of the drag racing world will be very much focused on Shakespeare Raceway this weekend, with event organisers as far away as Lithuania and even Thailand lining up to book an appearance by Laffin Gas.
‘Springspeed’ is the first major event of the year at Shakespeare with hundreds of racers competing in everything from frightening ‘Fuel Altereds’ and heavy American V8 monsters to lightning-fast drag-bikes. The event runs from Saturday 3rd of May to Monday 5th May, with Laffin-Gas scheduled to attempt its run on Saturday, weather permitting. Shakespeare County Raceway is located in the heart of the Cotswolds just ten minutes from Stratford-upon-Avon, close to the M40 and M5. Full information can be found at http:www.shakespearecountyraceway.com
For more information on Laffin-Gas, visit http://www.laffin-gas.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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