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December, 7, 2016

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Australian race crew in faster-than-a-bullet bid

SYDNEY--An Australian race crew hoping to beat their British rivals to a new supersonic land-speed record launched their bid Thursday, unveiling the first parts of their rocket-powered bullet car.

Daredevil drag-racer Rosco McGlashan has dreamed of being the fastest man on wheels since, aged 12, he saw Britain's Donald Campbell hit 403 miles (645 kilometers) per hour on Australia's Lake Eyre saltpan in 1964.

The record has been smashed several times since and currently stands at a blistering 763 mph — faster than the speed of sound — set by another Briton, Andy Green, in 1997.

McGlashan believes he can go quicker still — 1,000 mph — using rocket technology to propel his 200,000-horsepower super-car Aussie Invader 5R, set to blast off in 2014, 50 years after he first eyed Campbell's mark.

If successful, McGlashan will travel faster than a bullet, going from 0-1,000mph in 20 seconds as he rips through three tonnes of rocket fuel.

Like Austrian adventurer Felix Baumgartner who made headlines this week with a spectacular freefall jump from the edge of space, McGlashan believes it is important to push the boundaries of human knowledge and endurance.

"A lot of people will say 'Oh that's great but how does that benefit mankind?'," McGlashan, 62, told AFP.

"But there's just so many spin-offs with it — the physics, the science, the technology that goes into developing something like this is a win-win for everyone."

McGlashan jokes that he has served the "world's longest apprenticeship" in speed, having raced V8 motorcycles and rocket-powered go-karts in an esteemed speedway career in Australia and the U.S. spanning four decades.

"But it's all been a culmination to where we're at now, where we've nearly built, nearly completed the world's best, fastest land-speed car."

Breaking the speed mark is not all McGlashan has to contend with — Britain's Green is also gunning for the 1,000 mph record with his hybrid Bloodhound SSC.

It's a showdown already being dubbed the "Land-Speed Ashes", a play on Australia's famous and long-standing cricket rivalry with England.

"It's part of their patriotism, the land-speed record's been in the UK for 1,000 years," he said.

"But we've got a lot more powerful car, a lot tighter-knit group of guys and we believe that we can go out and blitz them."

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