It’s like stopping a bus from 160 mph on a wet road. That’s how the engineers behind the Bloodhound SSC—the British land-speed record car designed to break the 1,000-mph barrier—described the task of stopping their creation once it’s finished breaking the sound barrier. This video describes the immense forces that will act on the brakes as they slow the Bloodhound to a stop. While most of the retardation will be done by air brakes and parachutes, a set of car-like disc brakes still have to haul it down from 160 mph to a standstill on the slippery earth of South Africa’s Kaksken Pan.
At that speed, the car’s steel wheels will still be spinning at 10,000 rpm. During testing, a set of carbon rotors from a jet fighter shattered under the stress during a half-speed, 5,000-rpm test. Engineers switched to steel rotors from AP Racing, which managed to absorb 4.6 kilowatts of energy on a test stand without failing although the Bloodhound team hasn’t spun them up to the full 10,000 rpm just yet.
Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green will probably be thankful for strong brakes when he tries to surpass his own land-speed record in South Africa next year. He reached 763.05 mph in October 1997, driving the Thrust SSC, but now Green has his eyes on the 1,000-mph mark. To get him there, the Bloodhound SSC will employ both jet and rocket power, as well as specially-constructed steel wheels (no rubber tires here) that are extremely thin to reduce friction.