Elana Scherr is a writer/account executive for Kahn Media, which handles marketing for Spectre Performance among other automotive aftermarket companies.
The inside story on how Spectre Performance went 340 mph and broke a world record with an old jet fighter fuel tank, a Cadillac engine and a ragtag crew of engineers, fabricators and a grizzled land speed hero.
Name: Spectre Speedliner, aka The Infidel
Home Base: Ontario, California
Owner: Amir Rosenbaum
Drivers: Kenny Hoover and Amir Rosenbaum
Length: 38 feet
Width: 29 inches
Engine: 8.8-liter twin-turbocharged Cadillac V-8
Speed: current top speed--340 mph (estimated top speed--400+ mph)
The ground is so flat you can see the curvature of the earth. A smattering of vehicles litter the immediate landscape, and then there's nothing for miles. White salt glistens in the sunlight, and a sound builds in the distance. In a flash, a black missile roars across the landscape, emitting a deep guttural bellow more akin to a pissed off kodiak bear than any kind of mechanized conveyance. Like a land-locked stealth bomber it sprays a rooster tail of salt and leaves contrails of heat and fuel vapor in its wake. In this moment, in the middle of nowhere on the border of Nevada and Utah, the bar is raised.
The Spectre Performance SpeedLiner, a purpose-built racing machine designed maximum velocity, set a new world record. The date was October 10, 2009 and a car nobody had ever seen before and a team of grassroots car geeks did what nobody had done before--eclipsed 330mph with a blown gas streamliner. Now they're set to do it again, in August 2010 at the Bonneville Speed Week, and the new goal is 400 mph, making the SpeedLiner the fastest gasoline powered car on earth.
It all started across the state of Nevada, where Amir Rosenbaum, the founder and President of Spectre Performance, competed in an open road race called the Virginia City Hillclimb. Over a period of several years, Rosenbaum first got a taste for racing, then decided he needed to set a record at the exclusive mountain race (essentially a cross between the Silver State Classic and Pike's Peak). Eventually he built a Ferrari F40 race car and set the record. He climbed the mountain, and needed a new goal--with speed on the brain Rosenbaum took his F40 to Bonneville for the speed trials, where the Russo Red Ferrari went 220 mph and set a class record--but also hit the proverbial wall due to its giant wing and short wheelbase, neither of which are ideal for land speed racing.
Based in Ontario, California, Spectre Performance engineers and manufactures ProFab Cold Air Intakes and hpR air filters for muscle cars, light trucks, sports cars and SUVs. Since airflow management is their business, it only made sense for Rosenbaum to step up his game--and the SpeedLiner land speed racing project was born.
What started out as a fuel tank for a Canadian VooDoo bomber evolved into the SpeedLiner at Performance Fabrication in San Carlos, California. Built to compete in the Unlimited Blown Gas Streamliner (AA/ BGS) class, the SpeedLiner secured the record in large part thanks to aerodynamics: it is 38 feet long and only 29 inches wide.
The frame was built on a jig crew chief Steve Schmalz built on the floor of his shop using plate steel to ensure it was arrow-straight. The birdcage style chassis is not only the backbone of the SpeedLiner, it also sets the physical parameters for the car. Anything that doesn't fit inside the skeletal structure had to go, because aerodynamics dictated that the skin be as smooth as possible. Construction of the car became an exercise in efficient packaging.