Blue Flame - Gary Gabelich - Land speed record

The Blue Flame is the rocket-powered vehicle driven by Gary Gabelich that achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 23, 1970. The vehicle set the FIA world record for the flying mile at 622.407 mph (1,001.667 km/h) and the flying kilometer at 630.388 mph.

Blue Flame - Gary Gabelich - Land speed record

Blue Flame Natural gas rocket car.

The Blue Flame was constructed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Reaction Dynamics, a company formed by Pete Farnsworth, Ray Dausman and Dick Keller, who had developed the first hydrogen peroxide rocket dragster, called the X-1 and driven by Chuck Suba.

The Blue Flame's engine is a regenerative cooled variable thrust liquid-propellant engine. It can operate on either a single or dual-propellant basis. In operation, it permits natural gas use as a liquid, gas, or both with a two-stage combustion start. The oxidizer flow is established first, then LNG enters a heat exchanger where it vaporizes and is brought to combustion temperature. The gas is then injected into the combustion chamber with the oxygen provided by the hydrogen peroxide. A stable flame front is established and the remaining liquefied natural gas (LNG) is injected to bring the engine to full power. Nominal engine running time was 20 seconds at full thrust of 22,500 pounds-force (100,000 N), the equivalent of 58,000 horsepower (43,000 kilowatts). 

The frame of the Blue Flame is a semi-monocoque type aluminum, with welded tubular structure in the nose section and with an aluminum "skin." The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches (11.394 m) long, 8 feet 1.5 inches (2.477 m) high to the top of the tail fin, 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m) wide and the wheelbase is 306 inches (7.8 m). It has an empty weight of 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) and is approximately 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) fully fueled and loaded. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. designed 8:00-25 tires for the vehicle, with an outside diameter of 34.8 inches (880 mm) and smooth tire tread surface to help prevent heat buildup using Nitrogen gas at 350 pounds per square inch (24 bar).

Gary Gabelich's Racing career.

In 1969 Gabelich established a quarter mile Drag boat record of 200.44 mph (323 km/h) This is not the same as the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Water Speed Record (WSR) in which Donald Campbell broke 200 mph (322 km/h) on 23 July 1955 in the Bluebird K7.​

Gary Gabelich

Gabelich was seriously injured in the crash of an experimental 4 wheel drive Funny Car in 1972  that careered out of control at 180 mph (290 km/h) during a quarter mile run almost severing his left forearm and broke his left leg so severely that more than a year later he still wore a cast. This incident ended his racing career and he never raced again, concentrating instead on a new supersonic vehicle.

Gary Gabelich was part of the cast in the 1977 movie "Joyride to nowhere" and he made a documentary,"One Second from Eternity: The History of the Land Speed Record" in 1971. Gary and his family appeared on the Family Feud with Richard Dawson, where he presented the key to the city of Long Beach, California. to Mr Dawson.

In the early 1980s he established the "Rocketman Corporation" with Tom Daniel. The objective was to design and build a vehicle capable of reaching speeds in the 800 mph (1,287 km/h) range. This conceptual vehicle was named "American Way but the project was cut short by his untimely death in January 1984 in a motorcycle crash.

 

In 2008 Gary was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame in front of the Convention Center on Pine Avenue. He was represented at the ceremony by his wife Rae, a Long Beach City Councilwoman who retired in 2012 after 8 years service.