The Barnsley businessman taking Bloodhound out of administration and onto 1,000mph starting line

The Yorkshire entrepreneur behind Britain’s financially troubled attempt to set a land speed record of more than 1,000mph, declared yesterday that the project was firmly back on track.
Ian Warhurst at the UK Land Speed Record Centre at the Berkeley Green College, Gloucester. Picture: SWNSIan Warhurst at the UK Land Speed Record Centre at the Berkeley Green College, Gloucester. Picture: SWNS
Ian Warhurst at the UK Land Speed Record Centre at the Berkeley Green College, Gloucester. Picture: SWNS

Ian Warhurst, who, as managing director of the Barnsley-based engineer Melett, turned out turbocharger parts for the car industry, acquired the project out of administration last December.

Its Bloodhound supersonic car had been in the works since 2008, when the then science minister, Lord Drayson, an amateur racing driver, launched the plans during an event at the Science Museum.

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But the car stalled after several failed fundraising attempts and faced being sold for scrap last autumn, before Mr Warhurst bought Bloodhound and its intellectual property for an undisclosed sum.

Yesterday, he unveiled a new land speed record company called Grafton LSR, and announced a rebranding which, he said, would make high speed testing a reality “as soon as possible”.

His new team, including many of Bloodhound’s original mechanics and technicians, will focus on completing development of its jet and rocket propulsion mechanisms before taking it on the test track, he said.

The car now has red and white livery – though that is likely to change through sponsorship – and has moved into its new home, a 10,000 sq ft workshop on the campus at Berkeley Green University Technical College on the Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park.

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Mr Warhurst said: “The team and I have been overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm the public have shown for the project.

“Over the last decade, an incredible amount of hard graft has been invested in the project and it would be a tragedy to see it go to waste.

“Starting with a clean slate, it’s my ambition to let Bloodhound off the leash to see just how fast this car can go.”

He said he was confident there was a commercial business proposition to support the project.

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“I’ll provide robust financing to ensure there is cash-flow to hit the high-speed testing deadlines we set ourselves,” he said at a relaunch event.

Andy Green, an RAF fighter pilot and the current world land speed record holder at 763mph, will continue to drive Bloodhound.

His target is to first break his earlier record, established in 1997, and then to aim for the maximum design speed of 1,000mph or just over.

Ewen Honeyman, the project’s commercial director, said Bloodhound was a “very different sponsorship proposition” to the car under its previous owners.

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“We’re already having detailed discussions with a number of organisations,” he said.

Kevin Hamblin, who as executive principal of the Berkeley Green college is Bloodhound’s “landlord”, said he hoped it would “enthuse and encourage the next generation of engineers, designers and scientists”.