wewez – cnn – Speed freaks have been flocking to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats for more than a century.
From Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird — the first car to break the 300 mph barrier in 1935 — to the jet and rocket-propelled speedsters of 1960s and 1970s, the famous bleached white speedway has hosted some of the most iconic cars ever built.
Now a new breed of racers are taking on the famous speedway.
The latest arrival on the salt flats is an electric car — the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3 (VBB-3).
A joint project of Monaco-based Venturi Automobiles and engineering students from Ohio State University, the car — which is more than 11 meters long — boasts an impressive 3,000 horsepower under the hood and an estimated top speed of 372 mph (600 kph).
The current world land speed record for a battery-powered car stands at 307 mph (495 kph) — set by the team’s previous model, the Venturi VBB-2.5 in 2010.
Attempts to surpass that mark in the intervening years have been hampered by bad weather — the speedway was flooded in 2013 and last August slushy conditions dashed hopes again.
This year, the team is gearing up for another attempt with fingers crossed for a dry run in the summer.
“It’s very exciting,” lead project engineer Delphine Biscaye told CNN. “The speed, for sure, is like nothing else on Earth.”
But it’s not just about breaking records, according to Biscaye, who says this initiative is about developing new technologies.
“All the knowledge we have learned from this project and the testing we’ve done with VBB-3 is now used by engineers in the industry that are doing production cars,” she added.
The technology developed has already transferred to Formula E — the world’s only all electric race series.
“The knowledge we’ve gained from this project is being used on the Formula E project,” Biscaye enthuses. “In Formula E, we are a manufacturer this year, providing the powertrain.”
But other automobile companies — and even NASA — are benefiting from this project, says Biscaye.
“Most of the new students that are working on the VBB-3 project are now working in the industry, for the likes of Ford, NASA and other companies, doing batteries and working on the future,” she added.
“We are working with a lot of local companies. It’s exciting to see (them) and the people of Monaco are showing real interest in our project, because it’s not only a land speed project but also an electric and green ambition.”
For Biscaye, the Venturi motto “Powered by Innovation” rings all too true.
“It’s really motivating to see that it’s not only the world of motorsport that is interested in our project,” the Frenchwoman says. “People everywhere see the importance of this vehicle for research and the development of electric vehicles.”