Joel King just broke the world speed record on a jet-powered street luge, racing at 112mph (180km/h) —lying horizontally just a couple of inches above the asphalt of an old US air base at Ipswich. He strapped a small 90,000-rpm jet engine to the two-meter board, which gave him up to 80lbs of thrust. We talked with Joel and he revealed all the secrets of his heart-stopping feat.
Joel got to break this record thanks to the Wrigley's Airwaves 'Kick up a Gear' campaign, which "encourages bored Brits to make their everyday life more exciting." We don't know how Joel —2006 UK Street luge Champion— could have been bored, but we are happy someone gave him the dope to get that jet up and working.
Jesus Diaz: How the heck do you start thinking about whizzing over the asphalt with a jet strapped to a luge? Joel King: I started thinking about the jet engine about 5 years ago, just after I got into the sport. I had seen Jeremy Clarkson using one on a bicycle and though that it would be great on my luge. I had also heard about Billy Copeland's record using rockets and knew it coud be beaten by a jet. A year and a 1/2 ago I started the planning for the record attempt after working on a Sky TV show and then heard about the Airwaves Kick It Up campaign. Airwaves are offering up to Â£20,000 funding for people with great ideas to take what they do to the next level, to Kick It Up. I presented my idea of the jet luge record, they loved it and have helped enormously to make it possible.
J.D.: The jet seems quite small: are these off-the-shelf parts or did you develop them yourself? J.K.: The engine is an off the shelf model, normally used on unmanned aircraft and to get gliders up to altitude, retail price is about Â£6,000. The jet is 50cm long including the starter motor an only 16cm in diameter.
J.D.: So what maximum trust do they have? Did you push them to the limit? J.K.: Despite it's small size it puts out 80lbs of thrust, spinning at 90,000rpm. For the record itself we actually pushed the engine up to 97,000rpm which accelerated me down the runway so fast that the chase cars didn't stand a chance of keeping up.
J.D.: And what's your next challenge? More speed or "now for something completely different"? :-) J.K.: Thanks to Airwaves I am also persuing my dream of attending Streetluge races around the world. I am planning to attend a race in South Africa later in the year and I'm also working with Mega Kayaks to develop a new, fully composite, streetluge.
Thanks Joel and good luck with your racing.