Steam, you know, that stuff between your girlfriend’s ears, is good for more than just blowing money on Express jeans or heating archaic buildings. In your Grandpappy’s day it was used to power automobiles, fast automobiles. Back then steam-powered cars regularly blew (or scalded) the paint off of their internal combustion counterparts. Ask anybody besides Jay Leno about this business and you’ll get a pretty odd look.
In 1906 Mr. Fred Marriott pointed a modified Stanley Steamer straight to a land speed record of 127 mph on the sands of Florida’s Ormond Beach. It took internal combustion cars nearly four years to break that record. Marriott might have kept the record for even longer. In 1907 he brought a further modified Stanley Steamer to the beach to break his own record. Things didn’t end that well, Marriott wrecked at a speed somewhere between 140 and 150 mph.
Marriott’s steam-powered land speed record of 127 mph stood for over one hundred years. His record was finally shattered yesterday.
The so called “World’s Fastest Kettle,” a British built car piloted by Charles Burnett III, made 131 mph and finally 151 mph at California’s Edwards Air Force Base, Tuesday. The British Steam Car Team spent 10 years developing their steamy record setter. The 25-foot long “Kettle” features carbon-fiber and aluminum stretched over a steel space frame which houses 12 boilers containing almost two miles of tubing in which steam is heated to 752 degrees Fahrenheit before being injected into the car’s turbine at over twice the speed of sound.
Burnett admitted that Edwards Air Force base was not exactly ideal.
“…you’ve got rocks, you’ve got dirt, stones, even bullets in fact out here,” he said. “So we’ve removed the majority of the bullets and we’ve kept on track today.”