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Breaking the World Land Speed Record

November 2015 | By Youssef Sleiman
The vibe is more NASA than NASCAR on this race track deep in Oregon's Alvord Desert. An all-volunteer team preps the vehicle called the North American Eagle™ Supersonic Land Speed Challenger. And the trophy? Potentially the world land speed record of all time. 
World's Fastest Woman on Four Wheels Jessi Combs stands beside the Landspeed Challenger.

A command station radios go/no-go checks as the all-volunteer team preps the vehicle called the North American Eagle™ Supersonic Land Speed Challenger.

The driver, American TV personality Jessi Combs, enters a cockpit at the front of a 56-foot rocket with four wheels.

Instead of a steering wheel, she grabs a joystick, and instead of other racers, Jessi’s opponent was a record: 308 miles per hour, the women’s four-wheel land speed record set in 1965 set by Lee Breedlove.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, Jessi broke the record, driving the North American Eagle Supersonic Land Speed Challenger an average of 392 mph in two runs. The 50,000-horsepower jet-car was a refitted F-104 jet originally flown in the 1950s and 1960s. At one point, Jessi reached a top speed of 440.709 mph.

“That felt so unbelievably good. I knew that one was really, really fast,” Jessi said when told of her new record.

 

 

WATCH: The Battery-powered Jet Car

Inspiring volunteers -- and a set of good batteries -- power a speed dream.

 

The Power Behind the Speed

More than 80 premium-quality sponsors from aerospace engineering to coffee supplier to Interstate Batteries of Seattle supported the Supersonic Land Speed Challenger’s development.

Interstate Distributor Tom Allen has worked with the North American Eagle team, based in south Seattle, for quite a while and known Ed Shadle, one of the team’s owners, from their local racing community.

IBS of Seattle put up money for the fuel to travel to the Alvord Desert — and also provided about eight of Interstate’s top-of-the-line batteries, the MT7 AGM. Why is this battery the best pick for the Supersonic Land Speed Challenger? Tom gave three reasons: vibration, safety and power.

It's a sealed, absorbed glass-mat battery made from pure, non-alloy lead. AGM batteries sport impressive vibration resistance, and being sealed limits the risk of leaking or spills in a worst-case scenario. The Land Speed Challenger also needed power for tons of onboard electronics — plus something to kick-start the jet engine’s ignition from the starter cart. The MT7 AGM, using a unique internal design, can deliver long stretches of electricity and thousands of cold cranking amps, perfect for the team’s needs. 

Break Ahead

The North American Eagle team has declared a mission to break the world land speed record of 763 mph set in Oct. 15, 1997, by British team Thrust SSC. They also plan to beat the world female land speed record of 512 mph set in 1976 by stuntwoman and TV star Kitty O’Neil in a three-wheeled vehicle.

With the competition for the next land speed record picking up heat, we’re confident that the North American Eagle crew will come out ahead.

Check out the latest on North American Eagle's site.

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