An Interview with Richard Noble, author of Evro Publishing's "Take Risk!"

An Interview with Richard Noble, author of Evro Publishing's "Take Risk!"

09.03.2021: As the world continues to battle a pandemic, Evro Publishing is providing interviews of some of its talented authors to get their insights on what prompted them to write their books, the stories behind the titles, and their lives in general.

As the world continues to battle a pandemic, Evro Publishing is providing interviews of some of its talented authors to get their insights on what prompted them to write their books, the stories behind the titles, and their lives in general.

This third interview is with Englishman Richard Noble, author of "Take Risk!," whose achievements in the highly insecure world of record-breaking emphatically demonstrate his commitment to his cause.

He brought the Land Speed Record back to Great Britain in 1983 when he drove his Thrust2 car to 633 mph and 14 years later he led the ThrustSSC team to achieve the first and only supersonic record at 763 mph with Andy Green driving. In "Take Risk!" he tells the extraordinary stories of his 11 projects in record-breaking and aviation that all saw people and companies go out of their way to join him in his exciting endeavors — and take risk.

What do you believe makes a person have these great desires to break Land Speed Records and basically fly on the ground?  

I think we all have a desire to achieve something special while we are in our short term on the planet. I was fascinated by the tremendous advances made in aircraft design and performance in the 1950s and '60s but I didn’t want to join the old Command and Control aerospace companies. The Land Speed Record is socially acceptable and is a great challenge and opportunity for the innovators.

What compelled you to take such risks early on, then build Thrust1 initially to set these records?

Well, if you have decided there is something you really want to do in life, you had better get on and do it and take the risks. I never wanted to have to admit to my children that I had a burning ambition and lacked the courage to at least make a start.

How significant/important is taking risk in order to achieve your dreams?

These whole projects are about taking risk and managing risk. Unfortunately, you need long experience of taking risk to be able to manage risk. So, you had better get started by taking risk.

Why was bringing the Land Speed Record back to Great Britain so important?

The British love their cars and motor racing is very important. The Brits held the World record from the '20s until the '60s and then the Americans showed us how to take it on. I felt it was very important for our country to show a bit of courage and leadership and make another attempt. We are an Island race and we love motor racing and outright challenge.

How important was teamwork to achieving your goals?

Outstanding teamwork was absolutely essential to these projects which are team projects and for everyone a personal tombstone achievement. We try to operate a flat company so everyone has defined responsibilities and appropriate authority. Communication is everything and, of course, emails have a huge beneficial effect. Speed of progress and team trust is absolutely essential.

This leads to very high levels of personal motivation. During the ThrustSSC project we had to close the doors on Sundays because the team were overworking and this was a real risk to project survival. Everyone personally is absolutely crucial to the success of the project .

How often did you decide to give up after sponsors withdrew?


What tracks in Great Britain are best to be used for setting Land Speed Records?

We only have 1.9-mile Cold War runways not long enough for serious speed.

Do you still feel it’s a Great Britain record when set on U.S. soil…or salt?

Our records are always joint records when running in the U.S. We have the U.K. and U.S. flags on the car to make that clear. The U.S. help we have had has always been just brilliant!

When and why did you decide to step out of a Land Speed Record-running vehicle? Or have you

I wanted to drive the ThrustSSC but making the finance was so incredibly difficult that there was never going to be time to practice. I had also put my family through the Thrust2 record attempts and it was time to find a better driver than me.

Is it safer to attempt speed records on water?

I don’t know. We are looking at water now. The technology is just not known, which makes it very attractive.

Which do you prefer? Running on salt or on sand?

For very high speeds we don’t have an option. We need solid tireless wheels for the very high speed and they don’t work on salt like Bonneville.

Which attempts were the most rewarding and/or satisfying to you personally? On land, air or water?

Both Thrust projects were extremely tough and they raised my profile, which helped awareness for the follow-on projects, though I don’t use my profile for media work and prefer a low profile.

I was given a medal for the Thrust2 project but I don’t use it because the Government failed to reward John Ackroyd, the designer who made the whole project possible. So, the reward was uncomfortable.

From a personal point of view, breaking the sound barrier was hugely satisfying but there was no time to enjoy it because there were substantial debts to earn out. But, it did prove that these small companies run with flat structures, can easily outperform the conventional companies, and give us all a chance with the ensuing high-risk programs.  

Do you think of yourself as a daredevil?

Absolutely not. As a team, we do the research and, with thorough research behind us, we take low risk.

Have any of your crashes, on land, sea or in the air made you rethink your dream?

I have had two aircraft crashes, which made me realize that I had to devote much more time to flying. so I have had to give that up for the time being.

Have any of these slowed you down?

Only for an hour or two.

What goes through your mind as you’re about to light up a 600-700-mph projectile to run for a record?

I really enjoy it but I am deeply concerned to do a good job and not let the team down.

How does it feel when it’s over?

Absolutely terrible. As a team, we would have worked together for many years to achieve the objective and once we had gained it there is no team purpose to hold us all together, and we have to go home. But we still try to meet once a year.

What does your family think about your desire for outrageous speed?

They join the team and come on the record runs with us.

Do you feel you’ve achieved all that you can in Land Speed Records?

We lost the all-important Bloodhound SSC 1000-mph project due to a U.K. Government failure to progress a grant offer. The Government subsequently corrected the position but it was too late to save the project which is now in other ownership.

What’s still missing?

When I worked in industry I learned that retirement is a very big mistake. If you want to live and love long you have to keep battling.

Are there any other speed attempts on the horizon for you?

All kinds of opportunities are developing fast. After Covid, Britain has to get back on its feet again quickly. Let's hope we can be a part of that .


Richard Noble being interviewed at Black Rock Desert in Nevada after he set his record of 633.468 mph in 1983. (Richard Noble collection)

About the Author:

Richard Noble was brought up at a time of great British technical advances during the Cold War and was inspired by innovative record breakers such as John Cobb, whom he witnessed, when aged 6, in the innovative Crusader jet boat on Loch Ness in 1952. After education at Winchester College, his early career — first in insurance, then international sales with ICI — was gradually subsumed in his obsession with record breaking, which bore first fruit when he built Thrust 1, his first jet car, in 1974. The rest, as they say, is history.

Evro Publishing books are distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group USA. Books can be ordered from Quarto by email:; phone number: 800-328-0590; or website: Please use the relevant ISBN number when ordering.

"Take Risk!" is also available in the U.S. from specialist and online booksellers.

Judy Stropus- photos Noble


09.03.2021 / MaP

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