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Richard Noble Receives Honourary Doctorate

Richard Noble OBE, the man behind the record-breaking Thrust SSC, is being conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Technology by Coventry University.

The Doctorate is being conferred in Coventry Cathedral at 2.30pm on Tuesday, 17 November, for Richard's outstanding achievement and determination in securing land speed records, and for contributions to British engineering.

Salesman for ICI, hotel night manager, management training consultant and an expedition across Africa and Asia by Land Rover, Richard Noble has had a varied life but speed was always in his blood.

Richard's love affair with speed began as a six-year-old on a family outing, when he saw John Cobb's speedboat 'Crusader', moored in Loch Ness.

Years later, in 1974, Richard sold his Triumph sports cars and bought a jet engine which, after being attached to a rudimentary chassis in a lock-up garage became Thrust I. This achieved 200 mph on an RAF airstrip before crashing and being sold for scrap for 175 - the start fund for Thrust II.

Richard devoted all his spare time to Thrust II while working for GKN, and by the time Thrust II was ready for its assault on the British land speed record, he had no holiday remaining. So he wrote to the Chief Executive of GKN asking to see him - and walked out half an hour later not with the sack but with 18 months leave on full pay!

Within the year the British record was his - topping 260 miles per hour, a record that still stands. The next step was the world record and after a further three years of trials and tribulations the record was finally his, with an average speed of over 633 mph - Richard's dream of regaining the world record for Britain was finally realised.

But this wasn't enough. Now Richard wanted to create the world's first supersonic land-based vehicle. It was a race against time as a well-funded US team was leading the way. It took him two years to put together his team, including RAF pilot Andy Green, from Atherstone, Warwickshire, who was to drive the car.

And where else would he come for the best of British engineering but Coventry, birthplace of the automotive industry? Coventry University brought together 14 local companies to join with the University in the design and production of suspension and steering components.

Then the US team broke Richard's existing record and reached 675 mph. He just had to win it back! Finally after enormous efforts, disappointments and funding difficulties came success.

On 25 September 1997, at 714 mph, the world land speed record was Britain's once again. Then came the ultimate. On 15 October, Thrust SSC became the world's first land-based supersonic vehicle, travelling at 763.035 mph.

Dr Michael Goldstein CBE, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University said:

"It is in recognition of Richard's remarkable and outstanding achievements; his indefatigable determination, conviction and spirit, which are an inspiration to us all; and in recognition of his commitment and confidence in British technology and Coventry engineering, that we confer the degree of Doctor of Technology on Richard Noble."

Cyrrhian Macrae or Floyd Jebson 01203 838352


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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 13 Nov 98

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