In 2011, a British team hopes to break the world land speed record - and hitting 1,000mph - in South Africa using a rocket-propelled car known as Bloodhound.

Now another British team is hoping hoping to beat the speed record - in a lawnmower.

Don Wales, the grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald (who was killed in January 1967 attempting the water speed record when his Bluebird K7 flipped over and disintegrated on Consiston Water in the Lake District whilst doing over 300mph), who between them set 20 speed records on land and water.

The current land speed record on a lawnmower was set by American Bob Cleveland who did almost 81mph on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 2006. Don hopes to break that record by at least 20mph.

British lawnmower team in bid to beat speed record

The Times
1st December 2009

The Stig loves doing a bit of gardening during his time off

It is red, sleek, low to the ground and goes like the clappers. But there the resemblance to a Ferrari ends.

The latest British world speed record attempt does have one advantage over an Italian supercar however: it can also mow the lawn.

Just as one British team is preparing to hit 1,000mph in a rocket-powered car, an attempt on another, slightly more sedate, world speed record was announced today.

Don Wales, grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell and nephew of Donald, who between them set 20 speed records on land and water, is to follow in their illustrious tracks driving a ride-on lawnmower.

Mr Wales hopes to add at least 20mph to the record set by an American lawnmower enthusiast, Bob Cleveland, who coaxed his machine to an eye-watering 80.793mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats three years ago.

Although Project Runningblade, unveiled at the national Motor Museum at Beaulieu, is a top of the range model, in its production form the top speed of its 26bhp Kawasaki engine is just ten miles an hour.

The machine will have to be heavily modified before it can reach 100mph. But no matter how many tweaks and modifications are made, in order to qualify for the record it will still need to be able to cut grass.

Mr Wales was six when his uncle was killed on Coniston Water when his power boat Bluebird broke up at 300mph in 1967.

He won’t even come close to the 146mph world record set by his grandfather Sir Malcolm in 1924.

But lawnmower racing is not without hazards.

For a start the machine is built to mow grass, not break speed limits, so such things as impact resistance, aerodynamics and road-holding have never been given high priority by the manufacturers.

The greatest dangers normally encountered by the lawn mower rider are abuse about noise from disgruntled neighbours and getting irretrievably wedged between a tree and the wall while trying to enliven a boring chore with an impromptu slalom.