This month has been very different for me and Michael Hughes, who lives and works at El Ranchito Rokette which translates into “The Little Rocket Ranch.” The projects we are working on are really building momentum but there was much more happening there recently also.
First, during the last month I shot a television segment for the Discovery Channel that aired on Discovery Planet as well as two pilots for TV shows that are in the works. That was very unusual work for me as well as extremely time consuming. I was literally followed around by production crews and cameras for days on end with the director constantly saying…”That is great Waldo but could you say it again with more energy?” More energy…more energy and more energy, I heard that term five hundred times. I guess I am a bit more of a serious, solemn man than an energetic, bouncing, raving TV madman.
One production company had me climb to the top of Granite Mountain in Apple Valley not once but twice for the camera shots. It really was a lot of work when I look back at it. But I also have a new respect for the creativity of production company people as they worked very hard, long hours and they have a great work ethic. I have to thank Rob and Jake for showing me how it all works. No matter what happens with all this I learned a lot from them.
Strangely enough, last month I was offered “host” character jobs on two television shows if you can believe that. They are programs on the OLN network which broadcasts mainly in Canada. I dig Canada and Canadians but I turned the programs down because I felt the production of these programs would cut deeply into the time I have to finish building the Sonic Wind LSRV.
I had close friends and family tell me that I must be out of my ever living mind not to jump on these opportunities because of the personal exposure and money that was being offered me to do them. But I guess they don’t know me as well as they think they do.
I am willing to do TV shows in order to promote the Sonic Wind LSRV project but not just to do TV shows as I don’t see myself as any sort of a celebrity or game show host at all. I just build rocket cars and work on fantastic vehicles. That is all I do or have ever wanted to do. If a TV program will help me promote the Sonic Wind LSRV rocket car well then I will do it but if it doesn’t I really am not interested in using my precious time doing it.
If I was twenty years old and had another thirty years of time to screw around with I would do TV shows for the bread and the hell of it but at 56 years old my time to build this incredible machine is precious to me, actually “priceless” as far as I am concerned. The way I see it, if I am lucky, God smiles on me and I stay strong I probably have a good 15 years of heavy lifting and wrench swinging that I can count on to build the things that I want to build before my creator takes me home. So nowadays I have to spend my time wisely.
Then again, there is another TV program that is in the works as well as a few other production companies that have shown interest in me and my projects and if these things pan out they would probably be neat things to do. I am seriously considering doing these other TV programs because they would be interesting and educational as well as help promote the Sonic Wind LSRV project. I don’t want to talk anymore about them as I don’t want to jinx it all but if it happens I will keep you all updated as things develop.
Alright enough fame and fortune fantasy for this month now lets’ get to the fun stuff, building rocket cars….When the Popular Mechanics article came out in the December 2011 issue, the writer John Pearly Huffman wrote that I was building a 2,000 mile per hour rocket car. That statement turned the World on its side and me and Sonic Wind LSRV became the focus of hundreds of articles and blogs around the world. Then FOX News kicked in and it all got even larger by a factor of ten. There were so many blogs and articles written discussing my project that I couldn’t read them all. Many of the blogs were written in countries with languages I couldn’t even understand. Suffice it to say Sonic Wind LSRV and I went global.
The funny thing is that what I actually said to the writer was that I was building Sonic Wind to hit between 1,400 and 1,700 miles per hour but if I extended the car and added more fuel to it the XLR-99 rocket engine has enough power to push this vehicle to 2,000 miles per hour or better.
I have learned that people tend to hear and write what they want so what happened is what happened. In the end the whole deal actually turned out to be a good thing because it threw Sonic Wind LSRV into the face of the World, a World where many people are pulling for me and where others actually wish me and my project ill. I have a lot of new friends now as well as a lot of new jealous adversaries. Someone e-mailed me a great saying this month and it went something like this “People too weak to chase after their own dreams will always be able to tell you why you can’t reach yours.”
I have run into people and friends like that all my life. I have had people tell me that my dreams were “too big” or my ideas won’t work or I don’t know what I am doing or what ever in order to throw a monkey wrench into the works or rain on my parade. I tend to just listen to that kind of advice, step around it, schluff it off, move on and try not to look back.
I want to tell you about a famous football player I watched from time to time back when I lived in Chicago. Sometimes I would watch the Chicago Bears play as all Chicagoans did back then. And I noticed that there were basically two kinds of football players. First there are the ones that slammed into the competition on every play and took all the hits as if they had to prove to the other teams that they were too tough to be hurt. They always ended up torn up later on in their careers, wrapping and taking shots in their knees to numb the pain in order to just play one more game. And then there were guys like Walter Payton.
Payton was a famous and successful running back whose career peaked in the late 1980s while he led the Bears to their most successful seasons. His nick name was “Sweetness” and it was perfect for him. He was a nice and friendly guy yes, but he was also fast and slippery. You see when Sweetness got the ball he was instantly gone, turning and spinning in order to get the yardage needed. He performed a running maneuver he called the stutter step which always kept his opponents at bay. Guys would grab at him and hurl themselves at him and he would mostly just slip out of their hands kind of like a greased pig at a county fair. If he was tackled the other team never seemed to really hurt him and he always jumped right up from the pile and ran back to the huddle grinning.
It seemed to me that he loved the game as well as all the other players who made the game he loved happen and the other players could somehow sense that. Because of that he was held in high regard and the other players liked playing against him with all they had but at the same time with a sort of reverence. I never heard a bad word about him and during a Super Bowl game against the Patriots he was literally covered by three men all the time and that is what kept him from scoring as much as he would have. Sweetness retired from football after 12 years wealthy and lived like a king until he got cancer and died at the age of 45.
The way he played football is the way I build rocket cars. I am always jumping back up and running to the huddle no matter what happens to me. May God always give me the strength to do so.
The dilemma that has evolved from all this recent media attention is that now I feel that I have to either nut up or shut up. After thinking about it for a couple of months, I decided to nut up as I am not much good at shutting up and never have been. I bought a bunch of fresh steel and extended Sonic Wind LSRV’s chassis another 7 feet in order to carry 50% more Methanol fuel and acquired two more Titanium spheres from Carlos Guzman at Norton sales. The spheres are used to pressurize the new fuel tank.
Sonic Wind LSRV is now without a doubt potentially the fastest car being built anywhere on Earth. It is still the same width and height as before but it is now slightly over 55 feet long as opposed to the original 47 feet 6 inches. It now has an overall aspect ratio of 13.75.
What this modification entailed was to reinforce the chassis by “rosebud” welding 3/16 inch thick steel plates to the end of the original chassis and welding on 7 more feet of my personally designed, hand built ladder within a ladder chassis. Sonic Wind LSRV can now carry more than 3,600 lbs. of expendable propellants and will now be everything I ever said it would be period, end of story!
The advantages of all the extra work I did this month modifying the car is that I will only need to shake the car down through its’ speed regimes once instead of twice as I had originally planned and I will never need to do another major modification to her ever again. The disadvantages to the modifications are well, there aren’t any actually. It is now done and she is now what I like to call the “Mighty Sonic Wind LSRV.” Absolutely no talk and totally all walk. Here are some photos of the car being modified and the end results as the car went Big!
As Mike said when we talked about the modifications “Waldo I always say either go big or go home.” Meanwhile Mike has been experimenting with a new type of propane heater for his jump rocket and it is seems to be working out nicely. Here are a couple of pictures of Mike and his jump rocket.
I still am not used to the larger scale of Sonic Wind LSRV but it is growing on me. That newly added seven feet of chassis length helped the car aerodynamically as well as adding to its overall performance by actually increasing its aerodynamic efficiency and this is how.
Over the last year I have been trying to get the upper body shape as close to a Sears/ Haack shape (look it up) as possible. This shape minimizes super sonic shockwave intensity by changing its curved shape in very small increments. A Sears/Haack shape is used for the general fuselage shape of the SR-71 Blackbird, the Concord SST and all future proposed super sonic transport aircraft.
If you take the shape and length of Sonic Wind LSRV’s body and add the shape and length of the 45 foot to 60 long rocket plume its’ engine will develop while running. The overall configuration closely follows the Sears/Haack shape that I have been trying so hard to mimic. So we can just chalk that score up to plain luck. Here is what a Sears/Haack aerodynamic shape looks like.
All in all it has been one very strange and busy month. Many people seem to be treating me quite differently now that I am a bit more famous than I was a couple of months ago and I am not used to that yet. I have gotten friendly phone calls from people who used to act like I was bothering them when I would call them up in the past. I never understood why they weren’t nicer to me in the beginning as I haven’t changed at all. I am still that California carpenter who is way over his head building a giant rocket car.
Yes, it has all been very strange indeed. In a similar way it kind of reminds me of how average high school band geeks put together a rock band and if by sheer luck they cut a hit recording they become instantly converted into “Rock Stars”.
They soon become cartoon characters of themselves wearing silly “look at me” clothes and adopting outwardly rebellious lifestyles, experimenting with drugs and lewd behavior while acting indifferent to the corporate world which made the “Rock Stars” into rock stars in the first place.
During the rock star’s short time in the Sun (and it is nearly always a short time with only a few exceptions) everyone wants to hang out with them, be their friends and females that in the past wouldn’t have given them the time of day are suddenly mad for them.
My God what a silly and ironic race of beings we belong to. Sometimes I just have to laugh about it all. I know we all like to view ourselves as logical, intelligent creatures doing smart things but in seeing how we actually act sometimes I have to wonder about that. As for “silly/look at me clothes” this is as weird as I get…..Waldo