There’s speeding ticket fast, there’s racetrack fast and then there’s the vehicle being built by North American Eagle that it hopes will break the world land speed record of 763 miles per hour (MPH). If it gets there, computer maker Lenovo should be pretty happy with the publicity since its computers played a key role in the achievement.
The N.A. Eagle team is planning an engine test run this Saturday and then a test run at Edwards Airforce Base in California this summer. The world land speed record is currently held by British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green, who was also the first person to break the sound barrier on land back in 1997.
“We’re building the North American Eagle to challenge the current record and bring it back to North America,” the N.A. Eagle Team said on its Web site’s FAQ page.
Ed Shadle, the owner and driver, created the North American Eagle in 1998 by converting a 1957 Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jet into a vehicle capable of breaking the sound barrier on land. Now that his team has optimized the vehicle’s design to reach maximum speeds, with a record so far of 400 mph, he said in a release. They hope to reach speeds of 550 mph in the summer test run.
But ultimately, he said in a YouTube video that showed the vehicle in action, his team wants to bring the fastest speed record back to North America and possibly achieve a speed of 800 mph.
Lenovo’s workstations are key to that effort. Shadle said his team had to scan the entire vehicle with lasers, gathering about 19 million data points in the process.
“After scanning the vehicle, we have to compress all that information and create a solid model on the computer that can be used to analyze the airflow around the vehicle,” he said. “With the horsepower of this Lenovo ThinkStation, we’re able to do that.”
The ThinkStation runs either a Pentium, Core i3/i5 or Xeon processor, Windows 7 or Red Hat Linux, supports up to 16GB of memory in the Pentium/Core systems or 192GB of memory in the Xeon system and runs high-end business graphics cards from either Nvidia or ATI.
Going to extreme speeds generates a variety of factors that his volunteer team of engineers and scientists must consider, Lenovo said in a release. For example, the degree of aerodynamics can make the difference between crashing into the ground and bulleting into the air.
The Xeon-based ThinkStation D10 workstation also runs computational fluid dynamics and can support multiple, simultaneous analyses to evaluate transonic shock waves that start to develop around the car starting at Mach 0.7 – 70 percent of the speed of sound. The team uses the workstation to analyze photos and information captured on a solid state drive during test runs. They work virtually from their homes as well as in their offices, using the D10 as a collaborative tool.
David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.