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Published on June 21st, 2009 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Jesse James Exceeds Hydrogen-Powered Land Speed Record

I’ve always enjoyed the antics of Jesse James, the motorcycle mogul who owns the custom bike shop West Coast Customs. He was the star of Monster Garage, where him and a team of equally-eccentric characters were challanged with creating oddball rides, such as an ambulance that does wheelies. That is one trip to the hospital I wouldn’t mind. But he isn’t exactly what I would call an “enviromentally concious” person, especially after last week’s episode of Jesse James Is A Dead Man, where Mr. James was tearing across through housing projects and golf courses in a nitrous-injected Camaro.

But apparently the idea of breaking the land speed record for hydrogen cars has been on his mind for some time now. Last Wednesday, Jesse blew past the current record of 185 mph and set a new record of 199.7 mph

It seems technically, Jesse James set no record, according to the Southern California Timing Association. What he did do was exceed the current land speed record, going 199.7 mph for a distance for 132 feet. While still impressive, it is not technically a new world record, as that requires two mile-long runs within one hour of each other.

After three attempts and much too much dust blowing into the cockpit, Jesse was stopped just short of the 200mph club on the flats of the El Mirage dry lake bed. On hand was Mike Cook, who currently holds four land speed records, including three at El Mirage. His vehicle of choice is a 1932-34 Hi-Boy hot rod powered by one of three Chevy small or big block engines. Taking a cue from Mike, Jesse adopted a former land speed racer, (take a breath) the Dees-Milodon Engineering-Davis B Streamliner. This car had gone as fast as 237mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but was converted for a much higher purpose by Jesse.

Jesse and crew started with a run-of-the-mill 572 Chevy big block V8, and then converted it to run on hydrogen gas. Not as easy as it sounds; whereas a normal V8 has eight fuel injectors, this one had 24 (three per cylinder if you’re counting). Since the point of Jesse’s show is to try and off himself, there certainly needs to be a dangerous element, in this case the potential for explosive engine failure. Should the hydrogen gas, stored in three 5,000 psi tanks provuded by Quantum Technologies, ignite back into the intake runners, there would be a very big boom. So long, low-profile intake runners were specially designed to fit into the silo-shaped race car. The nose was also filled with water and ice to keep engine temperatures below 170 degrees (the autoignition temperature for hydrogen is nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, but why take chances?)

After solving the problem of excessive cockpit dust with duct tape and cardboard, they had to open up the air intake with snips, hammers, and a baseball bat. To make sure the car had enough oxygen, of course. The end result is the fastest land speed record for a hydrogen powered car that emitted no pollution during its three record attempts. While just shy of the 200 mph club, Jesse has raised my expectations for hydrogen cars. All we need now is an entire infrastructure and some committed car companies to make it happen.

Still, it makes me think about other, even more obscure land-speed records waiting to be broken…

Source: Autoblog



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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • LSL

    TV’s Jesse James fraudulently claims besting BMW’s FIA ratified hydrogen-powered World Record Speed Record

    Cable TV personality Jesse James claims he set the world record for hydrogen-powered vehicles on June 16th on the southern California El Mirage dry lake.

    The claim is without merit since the activities were conducted without benefit of any motorsports sanctioning authority. The vehicle was neither inspected, nor certified and all the timing personnel were on the James TV payroll.

    World speed records require two runs over a one-mile course within one hour. James was 5,148 feet short — being timed one-way for a total of 132 feet; he made only three or four passes over an eight to ten-hour period. Any world record holder will tell you it’s quite a technical feat to hold speed for a full mile.

    The baseless speed stunt was reportedly for “the season-ending episode of James’s TV show, Jesse James is a Dead Man.” The episode is set to air in early August.

    James claims to have bested the FIA ratified BMW HR2 record of 185 mph. The BMW HR2 race car set 9 international and FIA-ratified land-speed records for hydrogen cars at the Miramas Proving Grounds in France. The BMW HR2 is one of the few hydrogen cars developed with internal combustion engine (ICE) technology instead of fuel cell technology.

    Mr. James efforts count for absolutely nothing on the world motorsports stage and amount to little more than a self-promoting “TV racer” PR stunt since he chose to ignore the sport’s sanctioning rules that have applied to all records certified for the past 80 years.

    When contacted to explain the fraudulent claim, James responded with a short crude retort that reminded this writer that vulgarity is indeed the refuge of a destitute mind.

    • http://Web Jesse

      way to be negative jackass. would u mind building building a 0 emissions car that can do 199.7?! c’mon.. let’s see it.. and the fact that you are paparazzi reminds me that the media (paparazzi) blows EVERYTHING out of proportion. he did it for him. sponsored by him. he didnt have to follow and real criteria or rules to do something cool and have fun.

  • LSL

    TV’s Jesse James fraudulently claims besting BMW’s FIA ratified hydrogen-powered World Record Speed Record

    Cable TV personality Jesse James claims he set the world record for hydrogen-powered vehicles on June 16th on the southern California El Mirage dry lake.

    The claim is without merit since the activities were conducted without benefit of any motorsports sanctioning authority. The vehicle was neither inspected, nor certified and all the timing personnel were on the James TV payroll.

    World speed records require two runs over a one-mile course within one hour. James was 5,148 feet short — being timed one-way for a total of 132 feet; he made only three or four passes over an eight to ten-hour period. Any world record holder will tell you it’s quite a technical feat to hold speed for a full mile.

    The baseless speed stunt was reportedly for “the season-ending episode of James’s TV show, Jesse James is a Dead Man.” The episode is set to air in early August.

    James claims to have bested the FIA ratified BMW HR2 record of 185 mph. The BMW HR2 race car set 9 international and FIA-ratified land-speed records for hydrogen cars at the Miramas Proving Grounds in France. The BMW HR2 is one of the few hydrogen cars developed with internal combustion engine (ICE) technology instead of fuel cell technology.

    Mr. James efforts count for absolutely nothing on the world motorsports stage and amount to little more than a self-promoting “TV racer” PR stunt since he chose to ignore the sport’s sanctioning rules that have applied to all records certified for the past 80 years.

    When contacted to explain the fraudulent claim, James responded with a short crude retort that reminded this writer that vulgarity is indeed the refuge of a destitute mind.

  • mark

    hey lsl that may not have been an official record but the thing i would like to is if you can build a car that can go that fast.If not how about a little recognition for the feat itself.

  • mark

    hey lsl that may not have been an official record but the thing i would like to is if you can build a car that can go that fast.If not how about a little recognition for the feat itself.

  • http://aol knuck from indiana

    BIG THUMBS UP FOR JESSE. I RESPECT THAT MAN. KEEP PUSHING AND MAYBE HE WILL BE AT THE FLATS TO DO YOUR MILE!!!!!! I THINK THAT YOUR JUST SORE THAT A REGULAR BLUE COLLAR AMERICAN WITH LESS MONEY THAN BMW GOT ONE OVER YOU. BESIDES HOW DO WE KNOW WHO MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN PAYED OFF IN FRANCE!!!! KNUCK FROM INDIANA

  • Bill

    “vulgarity is indeed the refuge of a destitute mind”, that has got to be one of the lamest things I have heard in a long time, I don’t know where you grew up but that must mean almost everyone I have ever met has a “destitute mind”. Jesse has tried many things and has failed a few times; this never stopped him from airing it publically. I say he did break the record. Just because some “sanctioning body” says he did not do it buy their rules does not mean he didn’t do it. It’s not erased from history just because they say so. Personally I don’t think Jesse needs an official timing slip to know that he accomplished what he set out to do.

  • Bill

    “vulgarity is indeed the refuge of a destitute mind”, that has got to be one of the lamest things I have heard in a long time, I don’t know where you grew up but that must mean almost everyone I have ever met has a “destitute mind”. Jesse has tried many things and has failed a few times; this never stopped him from airing it publically. I say he did break the record. Just because some “sanctioning body” says he did not do it buy their rules does not mean he didn’t do it. It’s not erased from history just because they say so. Personally I don’t think Jesse needs an official timing slip to know that he accomplished what he set out to do.

  • http://Web And WHO BUT LAND FILL LOUISE?

    Land fill louise claims that Jesse is a fraud…. I know a thing or two about land speed racing, having been an ACTIVE PARTICIPANT at Bonneville for forty years…. Well, for this charlatan who has NO land speed credentials to her name to be mouthing off as she does kind of makes her the same as what she accuses Jesse of. Most of us in the real land speed racing world will not give the woman the time of day…..

    Now, Jesse, if you claimed an El Mirage record as a world land speed record…. you shouldn’t have…. ‘cuz it isn’t…. but there is one aspect to this. If the SCTA timed the run, the land speed racing world has NO DOUBT that your car actually achieved that speed!

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