Richard brought the World Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983, as the leader and driver of the Thrust SSC programme. Fourteen years later, he masterminded the Thrust SSC project which culminated in Wing Commander Andy Green breaking the sound barrier in the first ever supersonic land speed record programme.
Against a background of today’s low risk culture, Richard Noble specialises in developing high risk ventures.As a conference and after-dinner speaker, he illustrates his presentations with unique video and explains the huge problems in trying to persuade the British establishment to consider and implement change and listen to original thinking. And if the central funding machinery won’t deliver then, thanks to the internet, Richard has proved it is possible to spread the risk and fund with a distributed funding system.
CAREER TRIGGER POINTS
The Thrust 2 programme started with just £175, the capital realised from the sale of the very dangerous Thrust 1 car to a scrapyard after a major crash in 1974. After achieving the British Land Speed Record at Greenham Common in 1980, three trips were made to the US, before the World Record was finally achieved in 1983 at 633.468mph.
During the programme Richard and Thrust2 had exceeded 600mph 11 times and at peak speed (650.88mph) the car was just 7 mph away from catastrophic take off.
Widely acclaimed for his leadership, ambition and sheer determination to take the Record, in 1983 Richard was awarded the RAC Diamond Jubilee Trophy, Guild of Motoring Writers Driver of the Year. BRDC John Cobb Memorial Trophy, Sir Malcolm Campbell Trophy, BRDC Gold Star, the Segrave Trophy and was made an Officer of the British Empire.
Always on the lookout for the next challenge, he went on to direct the Thrust SSC programme and is now currently leading the Mach 1.4 Bloodhound SSC project which aims to break the 1,000 mph barrier while also providing educational inspiration to budding engineers of the future working with 4,600 UK schools.
The ThrustSSC programme started with a £40,000 sponsorship from Castrol and a two year research programme involving Computational Fluid Dynamics and supersonic rocket model testing headed by veteran missile aerodynamicist Ron Ayers and mechanical designer Glynne Bowsher.
The project funding had to come from a wide range of supporters, with products from 215 companies and merchandise sales to 4,800 members of the supporters club and internet followers all over the World. The ThrustSSC website driven by Jeremy Davey was the first to demonstrate end-to-end electronic trading in Britain.
Because of the financial difficulties Richard had to concentrate on funding and give up his driving role. A 6-month competitive evaluation on the 32 driver applicants resulted in a win for Andy Green, an RAF Tornado pilot with 1000hrs experience in fast jets.Once on the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, the team achieved a new land speed record of 714.144mph - a huge increase of 80.86mph on the existing Thrust2 record and the largest increase in land speed record history.
On 13th October the car went supersonic for the first time and then made the mandatory two supersonic passes over the mile within 60 minutes on the 15th October. No other car has run supersonic and the new World record stands at 763.035mph for the mile.Global response was substantial with the project featured on the front pages of almost all the World's major newspapers. The 9 television documentaries have been run almost continuously for the last 8 years, and a column kilometre of press coverage was achieved in UK media.
Richard Noble's other projects included the ARV Super2 light aircraft, the Atlantic Sprinter Blue Riband contender, Programme Funding, an original television funding company, and Farnborough Aircraft, the first distributed travel air taxi aircraft. The ARV Super2 programme featured superplastic aluminium construction which was 20 years ahead of its time and the all-metal plane flew just 13 months from a zero cash/zero engine start-up. The aircraft was developed, certificated and put it into production employing 123 for a programme that had 2,000 sales enquiries.
Working in this high risk environment can never been seen as secure or comfortable, for the financial horizon is often just days away and the company depends on its wits to survive. Richard believes in using flat structures wherever possible, delegating both responsibility and authority - which can result in a team which drives the project fast and across a wide front, activities which would be seriously expensive for traditionally micro-managed companies.
Vision and Challenge
Motivation and Teamwork
Success in Adversity
High Risk Management
Entrepreneur in New Technology