September 5, 1956. The whistle of a turbine echoes across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. The sound issues from a singular-looking blue vehicle, Renault’s Etoile Filante (Shooting Star). Developer Jean Hébert takes to the wheel for the vehicle’s first outdoor run, after two years of wind-tunnel testing. Several minutes later the Etoile Filante sets a new land speed record, peaking at 308.85 km/h. Read on as we look back at the history of the experimental car – the Renault missile that proved the world’s fastest car!
L'Etoile Filante, a record machine.
The achievement of the Renault Étoile Filante has yet to be bested, with a peak of 306.9 km/h over a kilometer and 308.85 km/h over 5 kilometers. Yet the sleek blue racer, measuring over five meters long, is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2014.
Record holder since 1956.
On 4 September, the team, which was staying in Salt Lake City, arose at 4 a.m. to arrive at Bonneville for sunrise. The Shooting Star was moved on a trailer behind a pick-up. They arrived at the salt flat, but of the 20 km track, only 12 km was usable, less the 3 km needed for acceleration and the other 3 km needed for deceleration.
The "Shooting Star" expedition was truly an all-out effort. The fine-tuning tests and timed track runs only took three or four hours all told. They set a world record for special turbine-powered cars: 308.900 kph. Four world records were broken: 1 km covered in 11.73 seconds at 306.900 kph, 1 mile in 18.83 seconds at 307.680 kph, 5 km in 58.28 seconds at 308.850 kph h. And finally, 5 miles at 300.400 kph.
"The car can go 330 kph!" said Jean Hébert, "I'm convinced that the average speed is 5-6 kph higher than what was taken down for the records."
The Etoile Filante returns to Bonneville.
The Etoile Filante returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where it famously established four new world records - two of whic still stand today!
2017 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.
The Étoile Filante is making a guest appearance at the 2017 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, it's first ever sighting on Australian soil.
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