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Turbinator II Becomes The Fastest Wheel-Driven Vehicle In The World, Hits 503 MPH

The Turbinator II has become the fastest wheel-driven vehicle in the world after surpassing 500 mph.

We spend a lot of time ogling Lamborghinis, Porsches, and McLarens, but these are all chump brands when compared to the true speed demons. We’re talking about the fastest cars in the world, the veritable bullets that congregate at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah--the flattest place on Earth.

There, vehicles are capable of reaching speeds unknown to anything that drives on pavement. Speeds of 400, 500, and even 700 mph are possible on the finely packed salt found at Bonneville. And a new car has been crowned the fastest.

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Team Vesco’s Turbinator II has reached a speed of 503.332 mph, making it the fastest wheel-driven vehicle in the world. To put that into perspective, that’s the typical cruising speed of most jetliners.

How does the Turbinator II achieve such ridiculous speeds? An aerodynamic body certainly helps, but so does a lot of power. To generate that much energy, the Turbinator II uses a Lycoming T55 turbine engine from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Those are the big twin-rotor choppers that the US Army used to use to transport artillery by hanging it from underneath the fuselage.

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Power is rated at just over 5,000 hp. On a car that’s little more than a tube made out of aircraft aluminum, that’s a lot of power.

Unlike most land-speed vehicles which simply slap a jet engine on the back and rely on air thrust to get them up to speed, the Turbinator’s turbine actually drives the wheels--that’s why this record is for the fastest wheel-driven vehicle. The fastest land vehicle is the ThrustSSC, which achieved a speed of 763.035 mph in 1997.

Unfortunately, the Turbinator’s speed of 503 mph did not constitute an official FIA world record. In order to get recorded in the official records, the vehicle must have an average made over the course of two runs, and the Turbinator wasn’t able to make the return trip due to wind and rain. However, the Turbinator II still holds the fastest wheel-driven record from a run it performed in September at 482 mph.

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