The Beaulieu Estate which is jointly owned by Lord Montagu and his elder son Ralph, is better known for being home to the National Motor Museum, which houses over 250 historic vehicles including four Land Speed Record cars.
But when you combine a group of petrol-heads and over 7,000 acres of grounds to keep tidy, some novels solutions are bound to arise. Countax mowers got together with Stephen Vokins, who has worked at Beaulieu for 27 years, and are aiming to drive the first lawnmower to reach 100mph.
Project Runningblade is the brainchild of Stephen Volkins, who has something of an appetite for the eccentric. “I saw a video of American, Bob Cleveland on YouTube setting the record for lawnmowers at an impressive 80.792mph on Bonneville Salt Flats,” said Volkins, “and I was greatly impressed, but felt with the right team, 100mph should be possible.” He then set about putting together a team of experts, and working with Countax, has now unveiled the machine they believe is capable of reaching this magic figure.
The team were especially pleased to enjoy the support and sponsorship offered by Beaulieu, which has been instrumental in allowing the whole project to grow.
“Beaulieu is home to an unrivalled collection of Land Speed Record material,” says Beaulieu’s Managing Director, Russell Bowman, “so when Stephen came to us with his idea, we were keen to offer it all the support we could. We’ve even reserved a place for the machine next to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 1925 Bluebird, which was driven by the team’s driver’s grandfather on the very same beach that Project Runningblade will go for their own record.”
At the projected 100mph the team aim to achieve, the mower, driven by Don Wales, will be covering the historic Pendine Sands at the rate of 147ft per second. It will go through a measured mile in less than 36 seconds, and would be able to cut the grass on a standard football pitch in 2.61 minutes!
In order for it to qualify as a lawnmower in the Guinness World of Records, the regulations state that it has to be a proper lawnmower, built by a recognised lawnmower manufacturer, using predominantly lawnmower components, and it has to cut grass on the day of the record, although not whilst it is going for the record.
“We’re delighted with the machine,” said Stephen Vokins, “and we’re looking forward to bringing another important record to Britain.”
To follow the project and learn more about its record attempt on February 27th-28th 2010, take a look at the Project Runningblade website.
We wish them every success in their record attempt and wonder whether we might ‘borrow’ their lawnmower after they’ve finished with it, I’m sure it would make light work of my much smaller paddock..