First they had to get it started. And with small setbacks matching tiny steps forward over the last four days at St Mawgan airfield, there was some doubt as to whether Bloodhound's Rolls-Royce EJ200 military turbofan would burst into life or sulkily fizzle out.
Indeed, it was only after engineer Joe Holdsworth's virtuoso last-minute re-coding of the engine's software out on the chilly Cornish airfield that the attempt looked possible. With 20 minutes left of the team's running permission window, the remote jet starter shrieked, its air-delivery pipe bulged like an elephant's trunk blocked with a coconut and the Typhoon fighter engine spun, popped, emitted a polite ball of flame and smoked into life.
No cheers, or high fives here; this is after all a British team, but there was clear delight from the 20 engineers attendant on the 1,000mph land speed record car. Wing Commander Andy Green leapt from the cockpit and Mark Chapman, chief engineer pronounced that he was well satisfied, and that the sight of a jet car surging gently against its arrestor cable and wheel chocks was "awesome".
"We knew it was going to take a couple of starts to get it running," said Chapman, who explained why the engine appeared so smoky at first.
"This is an inhibited engine, so it was tested a couple of months ago at Rolls-Royce and basically filled with corrosion inhibitor (it's a bit like filling a car engine with Redex) and you've got to blow that all through at the start. And the hot start means you get a bit of flame out of the back.
"So by the second and third starts, it lit up perfectly and Andy [Green] said it had perfect throttle control. He took it up to a low idle setting to check everything worked and tomorrow we start increasing that power setting and seeing how the intake works."
The scale of the achievement has to be seen against the nature of the Bloodhound, which uses the jet engine as the primary motivator, with a Nammo triple rocket motor underneath to boost the car to an eventual 1,000mph. As Green says, the EJ200 is one of the most reliable military jets ever, but it's never been used before been in a car. "I can show you figures of its incredible reliability," he says, "but every bit of its control software expects it to be in a Typhoon and we have to keep telling it that it is in an aircraft, which needs some quick footed work on the software."
"This is a prototype vehicle," says Chapman, "it isn't a car you get out of a dealer, plug it in and off you go. The first time we've powered up some of these systems was today, which is just amazing. The engine has to think it's about to start and the only way you can do that is to have the fuel pumps running, the energy ignitors running and the start cart running, you cannot test without actually doing it."
Indeed it was awesome sight and a big step for the small team of dedicated record breakers who are targeting October 26th as the day they run the 14-metre, five tonne, 135,000 thrust horsepower Bloodhound at 200mph on the 2,744-metre Cornish runway. This will be in front of a big crowd of voracious press and most likely more understanding public, supporters and sponsors.
This week's engine start is also another step in the journey to 11.8-mile Hakskeen Pan in South Africa next October for an attempt on the current land speed record which has been held for the last 20 years by Andy Green who in the Thrust SSC jet car, broke the sound barrier and set a new record of 763.035mph at the Black Rock desert in 1997. If all goes to plan and the funds are in place, the team will then return to Hakskeen the following year to light the rocket motor and take the car up to 1,000mph.
• For more information and details on how to help sponsor and have your name on the side of Bloodhound or attend the St Mawgan 200mph run in October, go to www.bloodhoundssc.com.
• Thanks to the staff at Cafe 1 at the Cornish Aviation Heritage Centre at St Mawgan - 01637 861962