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Rosco McGlashan: The time I went 1000km/h on a salt lake

By Rosco McGlashan, 30 Jan 2018 Features

Rosco McGlashan The time I went 1000kmh on a salt lake

Australia’s biggest speed demon recalls the time he went faster than anyone else Down Under

IN 1995 Rosco McGlashan became the fastest Australian in history with his Aussie Invader II land speed record car after clocking 1,013.55 km/h on Lake Gairdner.

At the time it was faster than anyone else on earth had gone on four wheels.

During the return run, seven kilometres of the track had deteriorated due to water, but McGlashan kept the throttle pinned anyway. The end result? A destroyed car, obliterated timing gear, and no record. This is how McGlashan recalls that day.

“We went faster than the world record on our northbound run, and we knew we could go even quicker in the other direction,” he recalls to Wheels.

“We gambled with it, because the water on the course was only an inch deep, but we ended up destroying the car.

“The wheels work like water jet cutters at those speeds, it just cut the car to bits with the pressure coming off the wheels.

“But doing 1000km/h, you have no context for the sheer speed you are travelling at. You are sitting on the salt, with a marker barrel every kilometre down the course, and a black line you are trying to follow because you wouldn’t know where you were without a black line on the salt.

“You put that line where you want to have it in comparison to where you want the car to be running, get start clearance, fire the car up, and what I do is pull away by about 10 metres, then put the full jet engine burner on like a drag racing car and hit it hard.

“You cannot appreciate how fast you are going. All you can look at is these barrels which are whizzing past you at a great rate of knots. They are all numbered, and you can count the barrels as they go past. Eight… seven… six… Then the measured mile is coming up, and there are some big black lines painted on the ground to know you are on the measured mile, record your speed, and then you have to try and slow the whole thing down.

“The biggest sensation of it all is driving a car over the curvature of the earth. If you haven’t been on a salt lake, the hardest thing to describe is you are standing on the salt and looking at the horizon over the curvature of the earth. If someone is three kilometres away, you couldn’t see them.

“When you are going that quick it feels like you are looking over a hill. You really know you are moving fast. In Aussie Invader II we pulled 4G, and I lifted my bum out of the seat. I would get out of the car and my neck would be killing me, I thought ‘Geez, I have been drag racing all my life and it’s not the G, I don’t know what is going wrong’.

“Then when I looked at the onboard vision I was climbing up and pushing my head against the rollcage and just about snapping my neck because I’m trying to look over the curvature of the earth.

“If you had to go that fast on a race track you’d shit yourself with all the trees and what not whizzing past.”

McGlashan remains adamant to this day that he would have broken the world record on his return run if he hadn’t gone off course, obliterating timing gear which was placed 180-metres from his intended path waiting to measure his speed.