Some of the most tense moments come in the days before running the car. It’s the point at which everyone has to be on their toes, to make sure that everything is perfect. It pushes each and every team member to do their very best, because nothing less is acceptable.
Going into Monday afternoon, the team began to get the car ready to do a shakedown run. A shakedown run is meant not so much to put the car as fast as possible, but simply to make sure that everything is working properly before we do attempt higher speeds. It’s an opportunity to ensure that all of our hard work has not been for nothing. However, the unexpected happened. Shortly after leaving the starting line, Ed was unable to steer the car. The Eagle was immediately brought to a stop, and hauled back to the pits so that the team could work on it.
After working through the issue, it was time to put the car back out to do the shakedown run. Leaving the starting line, Ed unfortunately once again discovered that he was having steering issues, which seemed impossible after having already fixed the problem. Taking it back to the campsite, the team began to dig into it, discovering that a different problem was causing the steering issues this time. This problem however, would require a replacement part before it could be fixed. Knowing that another day could not be wasted, the team opted to have a team member who had stayed in Washington, pick up the part, deliver it to a pilot in Tacoma, who would then fly it down to the team at Alvord.
Arriving late at night, the team went to work getting the new part installed. While it certainly took a while, by the next afternoon (Wednesday), the team believed that the Eagle was finally ready for its shakedown run. Pulling the car out to the start line, tensions had not been higher. This would be the moment of truth, determining whether it had all been for nought. As the engine fired up, and the cockpit closed above Ed’s head, the team held their breath as they waited to see what would happen. As the North American Eagle pulled away from the line, it began to go farther than it had before! Before long, it was out of sight, and the team could not help but be ecstatic. By the time the car came to a stop, it had topped out at over 360mph.
While it was slower than targeted speeds, it was right where we wanted for a short shakedown run. The vehicle had performed just as the team had hoped, and it was time to turn towards setting both the female record (512mph), as well as the single engine record (633mph). Jessi briefly climbed into the car to test fire the engine as preparation for high-speed runs tomorrow. This is The Road to 2016. Join us, as we journey to set new records.