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200,000 horsepower 'Aussie Invader' rocket car targets 1,000-mph world land speed record

By Jeff Spry

Australia’s fastest man alive, Rosco McGlashan, has a serious need for speed –– which apparently hasn't subsided since he first set the nation's land speed record, nearly a quarter of a century ago. His next attempt at the world record will take place sometime in 2022, in a new mega-horsepower rocket car that takes aim at 1,000 mph.

Based in Perth, Australia, McGlashan’s sleek Aussie Invader 5R is gearing up for a historic run to break Englishman Andy Green’s sound barrier-cracking world land speed record of 763 mph, reached all the way back in October 1997 with the ThrustSSC.

In 1994, McGlashan set the current Australian land speed record of 500 mph. He then tried to top it the next year, but endured an unfortunate accident at South Australia's Lake Gairdner salt flats when he hit metal timing equipment at about 600 mph, only 30 mph from the world record. In 1997, unsafe salt conditions required him to scrub his next attempt in a third vehicle, which allowed Green’s ThrustSSC team to claim victory.


Now McGlashan has triumphantly returned with the Aussie Invader 5R, a radical, custom-designed rocket car producing a massive 62,000 lbf of thrust that should give him a fighting chance at passing the 1,000 mph mark. If all goes according to plan, the daredevil driver will hit that speed in roughly 22 seconds.

Powered by an ablative B3 bi-propellant rocket engine delivering 200,000 horsepower, the first iteration of the Aussie Invader’s power plant was engineered by well-known rocket designer Bob Truax and Peter Beck of New Zealand's Rocket Lab. It was constructed with an orbital propellant charging module which helped stabilize the vehicle and stop shifting fuel from tossing the car off balance. They're now developing a new motor using white fuming nitric acid (WFNA) and turpentine.


The Aussie Invader 5R sports four solid aluminum wheels with no tires at the three corners of the vehicle, each weighing 309 lbs and rated for rotational speeds up to 10,200 rpm. Canard winglets on the nose are capable of adjusting loads on the front wheels as the rocket car's center of gravity shifts.

To slow this beast after its high-speed dash, a pair of metal air brakes will extend out from the rear of the vehicle at 800 mph, followed by a parachute deploying at 600 mph, and finally a low speed chute as it drops down to 450 mph, before hydraulic disc brakes finally bring it to a halt.

McGlashan is looking at 2022 as the target for the Aussie Invader’s world record sprint on a 12-mile, hard desert baked surface site somewhere in Australia

We’ll keep you updated when the sonic boom resounds from Down Under!