Mike Brewer interviews motoring legend and world land speed record holder Richard Noble OBE. Richard talks about the Bloodhound project as well as his new book Take Risk!
Richard Noble OBE was brought up at a time of great British technical advances during the Cold War and was inspired by innovative record breakers such as John Cobb, whom he witnessed, when aged six, in the innovative Crusader jet boat on Loch Ness in 1952. After education at Winchester College, his early career — first in insurance, then international sales with ICI — was gradually subsumed in his obsession with record-breaking, which bore first fruit when he built Thrust 1, his first jet car, in 1974. The rest, as they say, is history.
Richard had the ambition all his adult life to see Britain excel in engineering on the world stage and throw off the country’s dismal culture of safety first and risk aversion. His achievements in the highly insecure world of record-breaking emphatically demonstrate his commitment to his cause: he brought the Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983 when he drove his Thrust 2 car to 633mph and 14 years later he led the ThrustSSC team to achieve the first supersonic record at 763mph with Andy Green driving.
With the Bloodhound project now put up for sale by current owner Ian Warhurst, Richard recently issued an open letter to the media imploring Great Britain to get behind the project.
He said: “Mr Warhurst obtained more than just a car: he acquired a national project with 10 years’ development and build behind it, with £31 million expenditure, a supply chain of 300 companies and a supporter’s club of 7,000 highly enthusiastic members. The global media scale was impressive: Bloodhound was being followed in over 200 countries and with 1.5 billion recorded media exposures (opportunities to view).”
In his book Take Risk! he tells the extraordinary stories of his 11 projects in record-breaking and aviation that all saw people and companies go out of their way to join him in his exciting endeavours — and take risk.