In Northern Ireland we like watching motorbikes speed, we have a passion for it!
Project Velocity is a team based in Northern Ireland made up of students from the Engineering department at Queen’s University.
This team is no different in their passion for speed, which will eventually take them in 2015 to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA to accomplish their objective.
Formed in November of 2011, they have been steadily working towards their goal to design a full fairing motorcycle to set a new land speed record in the sub-1000 cc (Streamline Class S-F).
This land speed record stands at 296.2593 km/h(184.087 mph).
At Right To Ride we first heard of Project Velocity last year and again this year – 2014 – when Project Velocity’s team leader, Sam Marsden gave a presentation on the progress of the project.
Sam is passionate about what he and the team are trying to achieve and he has faced his own personal struggle to get where he is.
According to Sam, “Getting an education has been a struggle for me, I was eventually diagnosed with severe Dyslexia when I was 10 years old. I was told the best I could hope for was to be a ‘Bin man’ and it was recommended that I go to a secondary school with a good ‘remedial’ unit even though my passion was science and engineering.”
Project Velocity is a team affair and with Sam there are four team members, each with their own responsibilities.
Sam looks after aerodynamics and will ride the bike – Ross Blair – Front Suspension and Steering – Josh Logan – Engine and Performance Simulation – Steve Hackworth – Rear Suspension.
The Streamliner Record
But why try to break the record in the sub-1000 cc (Streamline Class S-F)?
The record which has stood since 1967 is currently held by Burt Munro as depicted in the movie – The World’s Fastest Indian (2005).
Inspired by the film and Burt Munro’s achievements with the limited resources he had available to him, it was Professor Gordon Blair while visiting Sam’s family home at Loughside Farm, who convinced Sam that the project could and should be done, encouraging Sam to go for Burt Munro’s unbeaten record!
Sam said, “When I met Professor Blair I was still at school and, because of his interest in motorbikes, we talked amongst other things about Munro’s record. To me it was just a pipe-dream but when one of the world’s greatest engineers tells you that something can be done, you know it’s not a fantasy but it’s a reality, not a question of ‘if’ but ‘how.'”
Respect To The Record
One of the reasons that Burt Munro’s record has stood since 1967 is that since then there has been substantial changes in the rules and regulations – for example a Streamliner is a motorcycle designed so that it is not possible to see the complete rider in the normal riding position from either side or above – Vehicles that exceed 150mph must be fitted with a parachute for additional braking.
There are also those that are of the opinion that the legacy Bert Munro has given those that race on the salt flats should remain without challenge.
While technology , engine design, mechanical engineering, wind tunnel testing has moved forward in leaps and bounds, it may seem in this modern age a relatively easy task to achieve a speed of 184mph or as to qualify Burt Monro had to make a one-way run of 305.89 km/h (190.07 mph) and also completed an unofficial speed record (officially timed) of 331 km/h (205.67 mph) for a flying mile.
Sam said, “Burt Munro, he was a great man and I appreciate what he achieved given the limited resources he had available to him. Similarly we have limited resources and also very limited time! We don’t have the years of experience that Burt had and we are not a professional team. We’re just Rookies!”
Our mind set at Right To Ride is that this is about young people rising up to make their mark on life and they must be encouraged and supported.
On Wednesday 10th September 2014 Sam travelled to Dublin, Ireland to meet with Burt Munro’s son John Munro to discuss Project Velocity and to learn more about his father and his achievements.
After discussing the name of the bike with Burt’s son, Sam agreed it was a fitting way to pay tribute to his father to name the Streamliner the – ‘BURT MUNRO – 184.087 MPH’ – which will ensure Burt’s name stays in the record books.
In fact, Team Velocity would encourage other competitors to challenge the record and also name their bike after Munro, including his record in the title of their bike to keep his spirit on the salt alive.
Team Velocity has our full support and through our website and in our communications we will do what we can to promote and encourage the team and hopefully attract those who can share this vision to financially back Team Velocity.
We will be there in spirit pushing Sam out onto the salt flats because for us, Sam represents the passion for speed in Northern Ireland and deserves that chance to succeed.
Project Velocity is an independent project, with currently four students studying mechanical engineering at university in Northern Ireland.
The project is part of their degree over the final two years.
Sam Marsden – Aerodynamics
Having spent five years putting the Project together, having seen it grow from a simple idea into a fully-fledged Racing Team, going from being told it can’t be done to where we are now could be seen as success.
Unfortunately that’s not enough for me I want to go the whole way and even if we try and fail, although I can accept that, it won’t be success.
I want to break Munro’s record, that’s why I started this Project and that’s where it will end for me!
Ross Blair – Front Suspension and Steering
My degree (Mechanical Engineering) is challenging in itself but the hardest challenge I’ve faced so far is actually applying what I’ve learnt.
Making a streamliner turn isn’t overly difficult, however designing suspension and steering that can do all of this reliably at 200mph in a small space is quite the opposite!
Nothing can fully prepare you for the real world of engineering; you just need to get stuck in.
I learnt this the hard way on my placement last year!
Josh Logan – Engine and Performance Simulation
Motorbikes get me out of bed in the morning and are why I don’t go to bed at night.
With the research I have done last year and using powerful computer simulation programmes it is possible to simulate our bikes performance at Bonneville salt flats before we race it.
I don’t stop ’till I get the work done.
Steve Hackworth – Rear Suspension
Failure is not an option!
Giving up is the only way that we can fail and I’m not quitting.
I’ve never been interested in finding a run-of-the-mill job and living the rest of my life in a boring routine. So as far as challenges are concerned…the more the merrier.
Project Velocity website – www.projectvelocity-bonneville.com
Project Velocity – On Facebook
Project Velocity – Twitter
Contact Project Velocity – Click Here
In The News
Belfast Telegraph -Motorcycle-riding professor was a catalyst for Marsden – Click Here
Belfast Telegraph – Queen’s University engineers bid to emulate 1967 land speed record of World’s Fastest Indian – Click Here