Bluebird to fly again as Don Wales targets electric land speed record

Don Wales with Bluebird electric land speed record vehicle

If you have a spare £250k or even £6 million burning a hole in your pocket, Don Wales would like to hear from you - now.

That's how much the land speed record holder needs if he is to fulfil his latest dream of breaking two new records - UK and world - for electric cars.

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Wales, who set a land speed record for a lawn mower earlier this year, hopes to break his own electric record and exceed the outright record set by his grandfather, Sir Malcolm Campbell, in 1925 in spring of next year. The attempt is part of the Campbell family celebrations for the centenary of Sir Malcolm first christening a car Bluebird at Brooklands in 1911.

On a cold and foggy November morning in front of the Sir Malcolm Campbell Shed at Brooklands Museum in Surrey, Wales was accompanied by the Bluebird Electric Land Speed vehicle that set a new record of 137.15mph in 2000. He hopes to exceed that speed on Pendrine Sands in Wales followed by an attempt to drive past 300mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, probably in 2012.

But how is he going to raise the cash?

"Well, there are three options. You can sell your house and sell your soul but I've already done that," he smiles. "Number two is by small donations and the third is by calling for big sponsors, which is what we're doing today. We want sponsors to help keep the Bluebird name alive."
Sign displaying Sir Malcolm Campbell Shed at Brooklands Museum
He's been talking to companies already and believes one in particular is showing interest but he admits time is running out if he is to get the new Bluebird built and readied in time for next spring. The vehicle will be radically different to the one he used 10 years ago with a heavier body and a cockpit located further back along the chassis. Power will be generated from four lithium batteries - and this is where the crux of the matter lies. Just how relevant will this attempt be for today's motor industry?

"Oh, I think electric cars are very relevant. There have been big leaps for electric cars recently and people are beginning to take them seriously," Wales insists.

"People like me are all petrolheads at heart but we can't go on wasting fuel. I can do something here that shows that electric cars are part of our future. We may struggle with the infrastructure of recharging at first but that's why hybrids are important now."

He admits that for the Pendrine Sands run, power for the batteries may have to come out of the mains supply with perhaps a spot of good old Welsh wind energy but once in Bonneville, solar power should be plentiful.

However, as he fully realises, talk of a new electric car land speed record is just exactly that until someone hands over a fat cheque.

Before all that, let's remind ourselves just how fast we could mow the lawn if we put our minds to it.

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe