JCB Chairman Lord Bamford has indicated a fresh attempt on the world diesel land speed record could be made in the future – if the one set by JCB exactly a decade ago is ever broken.
He was speaking at an event last night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the JCB Dieselmax car – powered by two JCB engines – setting a diesel land speed record of 350.092 mph on the Bonneville Salts Flats, USA on August 23rd 2006. Lord Bamford joined members of the record breaking team at the World HQ in Rocester, Staffordshire, ahead of a special dinner to mark the milestone.
He told the assembled team: “You did an amazing job in achieving the diesel land speed record – it was our own Olympics and we won it. My biggest regret is that nobody else has beaten our record. Let’s hope someone else comes along and we can have another crack at the record.
“I came up with the idea of attempting a land speed record when we decided to get into diesel engines. It was a very serious project and I wanted to make sure that our engine wasn’t regarded as being just a digger engine. I wanted to prove that in fact it was state-of-the art.”
Project Director Tim Leverton said: “When Lord Bamford first asked me about whether we could attempt the speed record I just thought he was mad! People often ask me what was the most amazing thing about being part of this project and I have no hesitation in saying: the team. I’d like to thank Lord Bamford for sharing his dream with us. He gave us the chance to make that dream our own and create our own piece of history.”
Among those joining in the celebrations was Wing Commander Andy Green, who drove the car. He said: “It’s great to celebrate 10 years of this team being world champions. I have been back to Bonneville a few times since we set the record and the Americans are still today talking about the 350 mph record and are asking when will the ‘big yellow car’ come out to play again. It was extraordinary: you are still world champions 10 years later and it was a great source of pride to have been part of this team.”
Retired JCB employee Colin Bond of Uttoxeter had the job of driving a high-speed JCB Fastrac tractor on the Salt Flats to give the Dieselmax car its push off ahead of achieving the record. He said: “It’s been fantastic to be back with the team again. Meeting everyone 10 years down the road has been absolutely great. Pushing the car and then seeing it break the record was amazing.”
Since production started in 2004, JCB has made around 375,000 engines at its plants in Derbyshire and India. JCB originally began producing engines to power its own machines and today more than 70% of all the company’s products are fitted with the JCB engine. Such has been the success of the engine that other companies around the world now buy it for their products and overseas third party sales grew by more than 325% between 2012 and 2014
Yesterday (Wed Aug 23) JCB Power Systems was presented with two Queen’s Awards for the JCB engine – one honouring innovation and another marking a massive growth in overseas sales to third party customers.