The Bloodhound land speed record car, which reached speeds in excess of 330 mph during its early shakedown runs in the Kalahari desert in southern Africa, hit its 500-mph target for the first phase of its high-speed testing Wednesday. 

Crossing the 500-mph threshold was a significant milestone for the team but the accomplishment was not without incident. Driver Andy Green caught quite a scare Wednesday when a fire warning was triggered after engine shutdown. Emergency crews quickly confirmed that it was a false alarm.

Despite the happy ending, the incident highlighted issues with the team's communications systems, as the emergency call following the fire indicator was not received throughout the team's network. 

The team's run reports since last week detail the car's incremental improvements from run to run, documenting both successes and failures. The team also notes the jet car's behavioral quirks as speeds increase. In the 501-mph run, Green reported yaws of 5 to 6 meters near peak speeds due to crosswinds. 

To combat this, the car's wheels, made from solid aluminum, cut grooves into the surface, holding the car's line throughout each run much better than would conventional tires. The Bloodhound team describes its car as "part fast jet, F1 car and spaceship," looking more like a space shuttle on wheels than anything typically classified as a car. 

That sort of over-engineering is necessary, because if the Bloodhound ultimately performs to its design, it will be capable of speeds in excess of 1,000 mph. The current land speed record is 763.035 mph, so the team believes it has more than enough headroom to beat that mark.