About the book
They said it couldn't be done. Sceptics warned that as a car approached 750 mph the shock waves generated when it hit the sound barrier would either force it off the ground like an aeroplane or tear it apart.
Richard Noble, the modern embodiment of the swashbuckling British speed seeker of yesteryear, was used to that kind of blinkered thinking. He had held the title of The Fastest Man on Earth since 1983, when his Thrust 2 car set a new world land speed record at 633 mph. Critics had argued that he would fail then, too. Noble liked nothing better than a fight. In the late 1990s, as a gripping Anglo-American race began to create the world's first supersonic car, he was determined to achieve this world first for Britain.
On 15 October 1997, Noble's Thrust SSC, driven by ice-cool RAF Squadron Leader Andy Green, smashed through the sound barrier to create the first supersonic land speed record at 763 mph. The Thrust SSC team had beaten the Americans, thumbed its nose at the sceptics, and realized what seemed an impossible dream. It was a triumph for British engineering, technology and derring-do.
This is Richard Noble's story of his obsession with speed, from his early days with the crude self-built Thrust 1 jet car, to the world beating Thrust 2; from his innovative ARV Super 2 plane to Atlantic Sprinter, his failed attempt to build a record-breaking boat; culminating in Thrust SSC, the fastest car in the world.
It is not just a tale of unbroken success but of disappointment and struggle, too - of how Noble risked everything he had to keep the SSC project alive; and of the unentangled human emotions behind one of the greatest engineering achievements of the twentieth century.