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I recently had my best day in work ever – I visited Bloodhound in Avonmouth, near Bristol, where an ordinary looking industrial estate is home to a group of people working on an extraordinary project. You can see what I got up to in this video:
Bloodhound SSC is a project aiming to break the current land speed record by designing, building and driving a vehicle at over 1,000 mph. The target speed is 1,050 mph. If this is reached, it will not only beat the existing record, but it will beat it by the biggest margin by which the record has been broken (33%).
To put that in context, the current land speed record is 763 mph. 1,050 mph would be like adding the top speed of a Bugatti Veyron on top of the existing land speed record. It will also break the record for the fastest low flying aircraft, which currently stands at 996 mph.
Our involvement with the project began because my business supplies Bloodhound with chemicals. As demand for our products from Bloodhound increased, they approached me and asked if I would consider issuing materials to them FOC (Free Of Charge), in exchange for which we could become a product sponsor. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity! It’s such an amazing project to be part of and the publicity makes it incredibly worthwhile – we can get a lot of mileage out of it (excuse the pun).
The visit was a long day. I got up a couple of hours earlier than normal to get a train with our Marketing Manager, armed with a bag of cameras, lenses and sound recording equipment. Our plan was to travel down to Bristol, find the factory, take a quick tour and speak to some of the people working on the project.
One thing which struck me about the visit was how friendly and accommodating the people at Bloodhound are. I thought the tour would have been fast-moving and we would have been kept to a roped off area or behind a glass screen, on the fringes of the factory where we could see the engineers working on the car without bothering them. In reality, there were no ropes or glass screens – we were actively encouraged to get up close and personal to all equipment and people – take both our time and as many videos and photographs as we liked, then talk to the engineers working there about what they were doing.
It was an amazing experience. Obviously the car was incredible – a huge mass of steel, aluminium and bullet-proof carbon fibre (it’s literally bullet proof by the way – they tested it – and it needs to be in case a stone chip hits the car while it’s doing a thousand miles an hour!).
There was loads of other cool stuff in the factory as well including eurofighter-typhoon jet engine, a team of RAF engineers working on the car’s tail fin, a clean room and, of course, our products 😉 It gave me a tremendous amount of satisfaction seeing ReAgent products being used in the factory – I really feel like the fledgling company my grandparents started before I was born has come a long way. It was emotional.
The visit to Bloodhound was easily the coolest day in work I’ve ever had. We spoke to some inspirational scientists and it was amazing to experience everything they are doing first-hand. Visiting felt very special and I got a genuine feeling that I was watching history being made.
Whatever business you might be in, it’s worth considering sponsorship opportunities to drive your business forward. ReAgent sponsors a number of projects. As well as Bloodhound we also sponsor the Catalyst Discover Centre and we have been a corporate member of the Science Museum for years. You often get invited to do things you wouldn’t normally do and it feels great to give something back to good causes that help to inspire the next generation of scientists. It’s also practical from a business perspective – for one it gives you something to talk about to your customers. And a warm glow, which is arguably priceless.
I’m super-excited to watch Bloodhound progress. The next major milestone for them is to conduct test runs on an airfield where they will fire up the rockets on the car for the first time. And… I have been invited to go and watch the car performing some of the test runs! Again, this is too good an opportunity to miss (I do wonder if this day will be relegated to the second best day in work…).