In Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" and in 1940s engineering, there was a demon in the air at 750 miles per hour, a line some said could not be crossed. It was called the Sound Barrier for that reason.

If that demon could cause a plane to break apart in air, imagine what it would do to a car on the ground. 

We'll find out in 2015. The BLOODHOUND SSC will make a test run at almost 800 MPH in 2015, which will beat the current official land speed record of 763 MPH, and will attempt 1,000 MPH in 2016. To keep her between the ditches, engineers will have to model how the car will cope with the supersonic rolling ground, rotating wheels and resulting shock waves in close proximity to the test surface at Hakskeen Pan, South Africa.  

The BLOODHOUND Project was launched in October 2008 with a primary engineering objective of designing, building and running a car to achieve a new land speed record of 1,000 mph. It also has an educational objective - promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to school children in the UK - kids love to see stuff that goes fast. 

Andy Green in the Thrust SuperSonic Car in the Black Rock Desert, USA in 1997 at 763 MPH. Green hopes to break his record, and the 1,000 MPH barrier, with the BLOODHOUND. Credit: Reuters. Link: Guardian.

The Swansea University College of Engineering team working on the BLOODHOUND believe they have created the most advanced fusion of space, aeronautical and Formula 1 engineering ever attempted. In the words of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, "the BLOODHOUND supersonic car (SSC) is the most exciting and dynamic engineering challenge going on today."

The aerodynamic challenges are substantial. Drag minimization and vertical aerodynamic force control are necessary for a safe record attempt on 12 miles available at Hakskeen Pan track. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software has been the primary tool for aerodynamic design. Dr. Ben Evans and Chris Rose's work on the computational fluid dynamics of the project, developing models of the aerodynamic flows that BLOODHOUND will experience, helped guide the vehicle design.

"These computational models have already influenced significant design aspects of BLOODHOUND including the front wheel configuration, the shape of the nose, the jet engine intake shaping, rear wheel fairings and wing shape and size. The CFD modelling continues to be one of the dominant tools used to develop the surface geometry of BLOODHOUND," they note.

Beating current land speed record by over 30% means that the BLOODHOUND design team had to design a new type of LSR vehicle,
but also develop some new thinking. Their investigations into the issue of how to keep the vehicle grounded led to an unexpected discovery that the problem was more difficult to deal with at the rear of the car, rather than keeping the nose down at the front.

"A series of unsteady simulations will also be carried out in order to determine the unsteady response of the vehicle, particularly in conditions such as deceleration with airbrakes deployed. It is also evident that there are still questions to be answered regarding the accuracy of the model, such as exactly how the shock waves will interact with the ground surface at Hakskeen Pan, particularly if the shock waves cause the surface to break up. This will require refinement of the CFD model in parallel with the testing of the vehicle.: