The 9 Fastest Things on Land

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A Brief History

On October 15, 1997, the ThrustSSC driven by Andy Green became the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. At a speed of 763 mph this twin jet powered car became the fastest car on the planet. Here we list 9 such land based people, animals, or vehicles that are the fastest in their category. What additions to this list would you make? (See our list from March 30, 2014 10 Fastest Things, and our list from July 9, 2014, 10 Greatest Swimmers.)

Digging Deeper

9. Fastest Roller Coaster, Formula Rossa, 149 mph.

Located in the United Arab Emirates at Ferrari World, this thrill ride will take you to a maximum of 149 mph! By comparison, the fastest roller coasters in the US are the Kingda Ka (at Six Flags Adventure) and the Top Thrill Dragster (at Cedar Point) at 128 mph and 120 mph respectively. The incredible speed is achieved in only 5 seconds and is possible by the use of a hydraulic catapult (similar to an aircraft carrier). The operators make you wear protective goggles to keep you from being blinded by a bug or debris that may hit your eyes.
8. Fastest Motorcycle, Top Oil Ack-Attack, 376 mph.

The thought of going this fast on a bike is mind boggling! To achieve this speed the motorcycle needs 2 Suzuki engines with a total of 2600 cc displacement and over 900 horsepower. The bike has actually hit a top speed of 394 mph, with the 376 figure being a two way run average. The fastest production motorcycle (albeit extremely limited production) is the Dodge Tomahawk with a V-10 engine producing 500 horsepower and making a top speed of 350 mph.
7. Fastest Wheel Driven Car, Speed Demon, 462 mph.

This appropriately named car driven by George Poteet in 2012 is the current champ in this category. Surprisingly, this fantastic car made the record run with a turbocharged Chevy small block V-8 and not some gigantic motor. If you were wondering, the engine puts out 2000 horsepower.
6. Fastest Wheel Driven Production Car, Bugatti Veyron, 257 mph.

Factory limited to 257 mph, an example with the limiter off holds the record as the fastest production street legal car ever made at 267 mph.  To build a car that fast and still meet the myriad of safety and pollution control requirements is astounding.  With only 300 of the previous model built and only 30 of the newest Super Sport (and slightly faster) Veyron’s made, there really is not much production to speak of.  At a price of over $2 million each, low production is not a surprise.  What is a surprise, is that despite its name, the Bugatti Veyron is made by Volkswagen in Germany.

5. Fastest Reptile, Bearded Dragon, 25 mph.

One of the most common and personable of pet lizards, these plant eaters (okay, they will also down the occasional cricket or meal worm) can run much faster than most owners realize.  Despite persistent reports that alligators or crocodiles can run at 40 mph on land, about 25 mph is more like it and for short distances.  Over really short distances, an alligator or crocodile can cover 3 meters in ¼ second, which is incredibly fast if you are within that 3 meters.  They are faster than the fastest human, but the gator or crocodile will not catch a healthy person in a longer race.
4. Fastest Hopper, Jack Rabbit, 45 mph.

Perhaps more important to its survival than to speed is the rapid acceleration and ability to cut turns more sharply than predators. Honorable mention goes to the Kangaroo that can hit a top speed of 44 mph.
3. Fastest Canine, Greyhound, 46 mph.

Not to be confused with the bus by the same name, the Greyhound is a “sight hound” that relies on seeing its prey rather than sniffing it out like the “scent hounds” (Bassets, Beagles, Blood Hounds, etc). (The Dachshund is capable of running faster than Usain Bolt.)
2. Fastest Animal, the Cheetah, 70 mph.

Accelerating to 100 kph (62 mph) in only 3 seconds, a cheetah would beat a Corvette. The Cheetah can only run for about 500 meters before it falls over exhausted. History and Headlines Bonus: The fastest North American animal is the Pronghorn Antelope that can zip along at well over 50 mph. The White-tailed deer can hit about 45mph, but can be run down by coyotes and wolves that have better endurance. The Lion is the second fastest of the felines at 50 mph. These critters make Usain Bolt’s top human speed of 27 mph seem pathetic.
1. Fastest Car, ThrustSSC, 763 mph.

As mentioned above, this car is powered by jet engines providing thrust rather than power to the wheels. Wing Commander Andy Green is a British fighter pilot which is appropriate for a car powered by the engines that powered the British version of the F-4 Phantom II. The record setting run was made at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The jet-car resides in the Coventry Transport Museum, Coventry, England.

Question for students (and subscribers): How fast can you run?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.