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The Bloodhound Project Hakskeen Pan

By the summer of 2009, Verneuk Pan in the Northern Cape region of South Africa was becoming our firm favorite for running BLOODHOUND SSC, despite the mountains of stones. It was the site of Malcolm Campbell’s 1929 record attempt track. Campbell was also worried by the stones and shale and a large team of labourers took 3 months to prepare a track 120 ft wide for him. We need to prepare an area 18 km long by 1500 m wide, about 40 times the size of Campbell’s!

What would have made Verneuk possible though, was the support of the Northern Cape Government. They saw that the huge global PR, the national excitement, and the close links with the BLOODHOUND education programme would all benefit South Africa enormously. The Northern Cape Government commissioned a full survey of Verneuk Pan, to confirm the work required.

However, it was not good news: clearing Verneuk was going to be much more difficult than we expected. A full survey last month revealed that the shale bed was breaking up underneath the playa surface and would cause us a lot of problems. The end of the road for South Africa? Not quite. There was one other option – Hakskeen Pan.

Hakskeen Pan, right in the North Western corner of South Africa, was initially dismissed because of a large dirt road running across it. However, last year a new tarmac road was built across the end of the Pan and the old dirt road became defunct. Could we move the dirt road causeway and repair the surface? Previous test repairs on Verneuk Pan suggested that we could. A final desert visit was called for – and in early November Andy Green and John Piper made another journey to Northern Cape Province. This time, the news was all good. Over 19 km long, 5 km wide, very hard and very flat (apart from some surface stones – and the dirt causeway, of course!), great access (the new tarmac road), nearby accommodation, on-site power, good communications, ideal weather: this was the location Andy Green had been chasing for over a year and a half!

Best of all, Hakskeen is in the Northern Cape – and we’ve already got the full backing of the Provincial Government! This support is vital for us. It’s been hugely refreshing to deal with a government body that understands the meaning and value of an ‘Engineering Adventure’ – and that wants to join in! Let the South African adventure begin ...

So that’s it. The desert search is over. BLOODHOUND SSC will run at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa – and at last we have a desert that we can call ‘home’ to the world’s first 1000 mph Car.

But where exactly is Hakseen Pan? Have a look at the map below. Using the zoom out button (the one marked "-" in the top left hand corner), you will see that it is right in the North West of South Africa, not far from Namibia.

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How good is it as a track? Early indications are that the surface is exceptional. John Piper took the Ground Surface Test Rig (see Breaking Ground on Breaking Ground...") and found the surface consistently hard ... and this information will be fed straight back to the wheel designers. Here are some more pictures taken by Andy and John on their recent visit:

 

The smooth flat surface of Hakskeen Pan, Northern Cape Province

Testing the effect of BLOODHOUND SSC's wheels with the Ground Surface Test Rig attached to the back of a truck

Hakskeen Pan 3

Engineering Director John Piper checks the readings from the rig

A single keel is fitted to the rig to see what difference that makes

The effect of 5 tonnes of loading!


Here is the latest news of the track preparation ...

 

Desert News

From here to Mier

Thursday, 15 August, 2013

News

This story is a translation of an article that was originally published in South Africa on 28 July 2013 in the weekly magazine “My Tyd” (Eng: My Time), a supplement to the Afrikaans language Sunday Newspaper “Rapport”. The original text is by Johan Bakkes, translated to English by Juanita du Toit and edited by Jackie Viljoen. We thank Rapport for the permission to translate and publish this article online.

Desert News

Hakskeenpan flooded - good news!

Wednesday, 10 April, 2013

News

The Kalahari has had a very dry summer season, traditionally the rainfall for the area is normally from about November until March. This year almost no rain fell in this entire period, that is until Easter weekend ...

Desert News

Kalahari Speedweek 2012

Thursday, 22 November, 2012

News

Hakskeenpan played host recently to the first Kalahari Speedweek in South Africa when hundreds of car and motorbike fans unleashed their vehicles on the surface of the pan in the far north west of the Northern Cape. Speed was the name of the game for the multitude of very different young and old entries ahead of BLOODHOUND SSC’s arrival in 2013 and was a great trial run to show what the team must expect.

Desert News

Desert Update, November 2012

Thursday, 15 November, 2012

News


History in the making
By Rudi Riek

How does one cram three years of extraordinary feats into an article such as this? This was the question I was faced with when asked by Andy to update the BLOODHOUND readers on the progress at Hakskeenpan ...

Desert News

Desert Update, July 2012

Thursday, 16 August, 2012

News

300 people clearing Hakskeen Pan

This is a difficult update to write because I can’t really describe in words the scale of what is happening in South Africa.

I’ve just got back from a technical survey of the desert work (and some media interviews, to explain how we are getting on) and I’m still amazed by what I’ve seen.  I was with a couple of experienced journalists, who were fairly quiet over dinner after their visit to the Pan, as they tried to grasp the enormity of what they’d just seen.

Desert News

Fastest Man on Earth Speeds into Northern Cape

Tuesday, 24 July, 2012

Press Release

On 24 July 2012, Land Speed Record (LSR) holder Andy Green will be visiting Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa to view progress on the world’s fastest race track.

Desert News

Richard Noble visits Hakskeen Pan

Monday, 27 February, 2012

News

Richard Noble’s first visit to Hakskeenpan took place with the lake bed flooded but that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm or urge to get to the track!

Desert News

Desert update - December 2011

Tuesday, 3 January, 2012

News

 by Andy Green

This year started with an unusually wet season in the Northern Cape. Hakskeen Pan was still under water in May, and the track preparation team didn’t get back onto the Pan until late June – about 2 months later than we were expecting. Luckily, the start of the new rainy season (normally around November) has been delayed, so work has continued right into December and the team has pretty much caught up.

Desert News

1K club Gold member James Howlett visits Hakskeen Pan

Friday, 4 November, 2011

News

1K club Gold member James Howlett recounts his recent trip to to help build the world fastest race track on the Hakskeen Pan, South Africa:

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