"No one in this world is necessarily equipped to handle the Bluebird. This is far beyond anything attempted in the past. The only people who know something about these things are test pilots or someone like yours truly who has had to learn the hard way on water.
"You don't go into it feeling, 'Boy oh boy, this is going to be a piece of cake.' I did that once, on Father's old boat. The next thing, I nearly turned the whole boat around the propeller shaft.
"On the other hand, you have to think that you have a reasonable chance of succeeding. While one admires the hot-rod boys [ Campbell presumably was thinking of Thompson], that's not our line of country. I don't like hot rods because I don't like uncalculated risks. There's always a factor of ignorance in these projects, even after a design is tested and retested, and to my nervous mind that is enough.
"This animal has taken four and a half years to build. It has all kinds of electronic gadgets in it. We're taking advantage of every modern technique known to man.
"In the end, projects of this sort should help get the price of the everyday passenger car down. You can't see the cost of labor going down, so there are only two ways of doing the job, as I see it. First, greater numbers. Second, the virtually untapped field of making ever lighter masses of material do ever greater work."
The new Bluebird, by virtue of its light components, has an unprecedented power-to-weight ratio of one horsepower to less than two pounds. Generally speaking, this ratio is the most crucial factor in any racing or speed-record car; the lightest car with the greatest power is the winner. The four-wheel-drive Bluebird weighs 8,000 pounds and will develop some 4,250 hp from its Bristol-Siddeley Proteus free turbine engine, the engine used in the early Britannia turboprop airplane. Cobb's was a 7,000-pound, 2,800-hp, two-engine car.
"If it isn't easier to drive this beast than the Bluebird boat," Campbell went on, "then we've done a bloody bad job. Those who have gone after records on both agree that the land is easier than the water. I am here to tell you that this game on water is getting tricky. It was tricky enough for me, thank you very much indeed."
One man who knows perhaps better than Campbell how tricky high speeds can be, on water or land, is Lewis Norris, one of Bluebird's chief designers, who, at his home in the little Sussex town of Burgess Hill, made it clear that Campbell will do well to approach 500 mph.
Compact, dark-eyed and intense, Norris, who also designed Campbell's jet boat, sat at a Spartan desk before a blackboard covered with abstruse mathematical hen tracks.
Campbell, Norris said, will have two major tasks. The first is to accelerate the Bluebird at precisely the rate giving maximum tire adhesion. Since the engine is powerful enough to produce unwanted wheel spin all through the acceleration range, two sets of data, which will appear on a special dial, will be reflected onto the windshield in such a way that the figures will seem to be projected on the track ahead of Campbell. One will show a theoretically perfect acceleration figure for any given point on the course and the other will show his actual performance.