Imagine & Sonic Wind LSRV

Waldo Says: December 2008 Update


     We are on a roll as lately things seem like they are just falling into place. Ken is finalizing the propulsion system plumbing lay out and has been sending me daily updates and changes. He has decided to run the engine in a slightly rich mode to protect the engine from burnout. Working on Imagine LSRV has brought my older brother Ken Mason back from the dead…literally!

      A slave to his never ending calculations Ken asked me to add another 35 gallons of Kerosene to the fuel supply. Since the vehicle chassis was already cut to size I decided to go back to incorporating a 28 inch diameter Titanium sphere in the group of inert gas pressureant vessels. In order to get enough volume for the helium gas. Then I added a 26 inch diameter by 40 inch long auxiliary fuel tank on top of the twin 25 foot long stainless steel fuel (Kerosene) tanks which will give us 80 extra gallons of fuel. It is more than enough to run the rocket engine rich and have plenty of fuel overkill in the rich mixture ratio. Anyway here are a couple of photos of what the rearranged chassis looks like now.

     The changes have turned out as a boon to the overall design as the Cg is movedeven further forward with the addition of the new tank and the 28 inch diameter Titanium pressure vessel adds to the blast protection for the safety capsule. The safety capsule has been moved a couple of feet forward so the driver’s head is very near the Cg of the vehicle. This will give him/her a much better feel for what the car is doing. We keep making changes because we like to build something right the first time so we don’t have to build it right a second time.

     Of course all these changes are going to change the over-all look of the car so I will build a new model of the revised Imagine LSRV soon and post it. I will probably get it done after the holidays. Oh, By the way MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL In THE COMING NEW YEAR!

      Another one of Ken’s plans is to add a 3 gallon tank of water to the propulsion system in order fill the rocket engine cooling jacket initially with water at the time of ignition. He plans to blow water and Lox through the MR-40K combustion chamber and nozzle initially then flow in the Kerosene to get a nice smooth engine start. 

     Bi propellant liquid rocket engines can get a little dicey at the start and shut down if they are not plumbed correctly. Especially if you happen to be running a regenetively cooled liquid rocket engine and firing it horizontally.

     But as you can tell by our Sonic Wind videos, Ken Mason can make a bipropellant rocket engine sing and get it to do what it is supposed to do at ignition, during the run and also at shut down.

     I was reading something Richard Noble wrote in the Bloodhound website that I found interesting. Noble said that they were not going to use a straight bi propellant rocket engine on their car because they tend to explode on shut down if you fire them horizontally. I had to laugh at that one because if that were true, Sonic Wind would not run right and of course we know different.

     You would also have to consider all the German rocket planes built during WW2 such as the operational fighter the Me163 as well as the many other German experimental rocket planes. What about all the Russian rocket fighter planes, their operational BI-1 rocket fighters of which there were dozens of variants.

     Consider the X series of research rocket planes tested by our own Air Force such as the X-1, X-1A, X-1B, X-1E, D-558, X-2, X-15, X-15A, XF-104A, XF-84 Thundercepter, as well as about a half dozen rocket powered lifting body aircraft flown in the 1960s and 70s. You can also add to that list the hundreds if not thousands of bi propellant rocket engine sled runs done at the various acceleration test tracks around the world. Many especially in the 1950s and 1960s used large horizontally fired liquid rocket engines produced by Aerojet General and Rocketdyne.

      I’d bet if I pulled out my history books I could add about another 30 more aircraft to that list but you get the idea. Horizontally fired rocket engines do not blow up at shut down if you know how to purge the engine properly and the system is designed correctly.

     The Bloodhound team, beside their turbofan jet engine will be using a hydrogen peroxide hybrid rocket engine as a kicker. It is very similar in design to the one used on the 1979 Budweiser rocket car. Which was according to its builder Bill Fredericks, world famous rocket plane jock Chuck Yeager and the United States Air Force the first car to go through the sound barrier in 1979.  Yet Thrust SSC claims to be the first supersonic car. I see a bit of irony here, what say you?


     No matter, I am so looking forward to seeing Bloodhound materialize. It will be a great vehicle I am sure. There is also news that the old “American Eagle” that Keith Zanghi and Rick Kikes used to own has been bought by Jet drag race pilot Jim “Jet” Neilson. Jim plans to make an attempt on the LSR soon with this J-79 powered jet car. The North American Eagle itself is ready to go as soon as they can find a sponsor, the Breedlove/ Fosset car is in limbo somewhere. Supposedly sold or not sold or may be sold depending on who is telling the story.

     There is also a new jet car with very John Ackroyd like influences being built in New Zealand. It is to be driven by Richard Nowland and here is a picture of it. The car is called “Jet Black” and here is their web site. The jet black car looks a lot like Thrust 2 with canted out tail fins similar to Imagine LSRV.   I always thought I was the innovator of that design trait but I was dead wrong.

      An early 1970s design to follow the Blue Flame with Gary Gabelich behind the wheel was to have canted out tail fins as well as a 1983 design of Aussie Invader 2 sent to me by Rosco “the innovator” McGlashen. Here is a photo of that conceptual drawing. It was neat looking but his aero guys at the time thought the fins might generate excess lift at the rear of the car.

     Here also is a black and white photo of Art Arfons last Green Monster J-79 car on display in some museum sans forward canards. This was sometime before it was sold to Slick Gardner as Slick added a taller rear tail to the design. Now that is one sexy jet car if you ask me. It looks like it is going supersonic just sitting there.

     So there is a bunch of new and at the ready LSR vehicles on the horizon and I for one am excited. Now if only the Japanese with there unique way of thought would build a LSR car. A popular Japanese artist put a few LSR car models on display at an art gallery awhile back and here are a couple of photos of two of the most novel designs. I like the one with the teeth best. Those Japanese come up with some wild stuff but at least they are thinking about the LSR.

     In case you hadn’t noticed, our web site has received over 50,000 hits since we opened it five years ago. That is actually not too bad considering I have never done advertising, TV or magazines or anything. Then again it is really not very much when you compare it to say a popular porno site. Some of which can generate over a million hits a day… Yet somehow I understand that. For you way too serious engineering types that was a joke.

    A good friend of mine and illustration contributor to this web site Jeff Teaford has opened up a website of his own where he sells neat little model gliders. He has been making gliders for years and they are good flyers and would make great stocking stuffers. Check them out at

    I have been talking on the phone to Ray Lipper the CEO of Centerline wheels and have received some very positive feedback from him on building our wheels. The problem is, I am having a hard time finding an innovative and courageous engineer to design them around my novel concepts. Mr. Lipper said that if I get some data, specs and drawings he will see what he can do about building them for us. I couldn’t ask for more than that. I am so happy about that because if anyone will be able to do a first class job. It will be Centerline Wheels. You can see their products at

     They sell many racing and street car wheels and are known for building the wheels for the last Spirit of America jet car. Some people like to say that the last Spirit jet car was a failure. Say what you will, it is still the fastest officially timed American land speed car in history. It is also the only American land speed car to participate in a novel campaign competing against another nation at the same time on the same lake bed. It also holds the distinction of crashing at the highest speed ever and letting the driver walk away from the crash. The speed was a timed 675 M.P.H.

     I liked the look of the Centerline simple flat racing front runner dragster wheel ( the one rimmed with rivets) so much that I have two hanging up in my shop as works of art. I think they are a brilliant design and absolutely beautiful. So I guess art really is in the eye of the beholder. I will keep you informed on what happens with Centerline.

     I have also been trying to talk Deszo Molnar into coming onboard with us. He was the team leader for the Craig Breedlove Spirit of America team. He is very sharp, multi talented and has a lot of LSR experience running a crew as well as building and campaigning an unlimited LSR contender. I hope he decides to help us campaign Imagine LSRV and take land speed record racing into the 21st century.

     Speaking of 21st century designs. I recently went to the NCAS Miramar air show near San Diego last month. It is almost as good a show as the Edwards AFB open house. The Edwards AFB show has been cancelled for the last few years now. My guess is that they are testing new technology on base and don’t want a lot of people snooping around right now.

       Anyway at MCAS Miramar the new F-22 Raptor was doing a flight demonstration and it is unbelievable what this aircraft can do. It can literally flip over backward or spin sideways 180 degrees in flight and go back the way it had just come. This incredible new maneuver has just made the heat seeking air to air missile obsolete.

        The Raptor can accelerate out of sight in a matter of seconds or decelerate to a walk in no time at all. It can stand stationary in hover vertically on its tail. It can out turn anything I have ever seen in the sky and I wondered what kind of a G loading the pilot was taking as it made its tight circles. All in all the F-22 Raptor ushers in a new era for fighter jets. I am constantly hearing about new and novel Migs and Sukhois but we here in the west just have to say…..“Yep, pardners….Thars a new sheriff in town with a mighty big iron on his hip and his name is RAPTOR!”

     Another neat display at NCAS Miramar was a fully operational Soviet Mig 21 supersonic jet interceptor. This is one hot pocket rocket and was the Soviets answer to our F-104 Starfighter. In fact the performance envelope of both aircraft is very similar. It had been flown in from the nearby San Diego flight museum. This is a museum that only keeps actual flying aircraft and no hanger queens. They said they will give anyone a ride in the Mig 21 for a donation of about $5,000.00 to the museum.

     I asked them how fast and how high would they take me if I happened to steal the money. He said the fastest they had ever flown the Mig was .8 Mach because it is old and they didn’t want to take the chance of losing it. I told him “I’m sorry but if I am going to give you 5 large we will have to be talking 60,000 feet and Mach 2 plus or forget it! I can do .8 Mach flying to my grandma’s house in an aging airliner.” See how jaded I have become?

      Lastly and sadly, one of my long time heroes has passed on and I am really down about this one. Robert “Jocko” Johnson the artist, sculptor, car designer, engine designer and drag racer has left us. Jocko only 72 years old was the victim of a massive heart attack.

     In tribute to his brilliance I have put up a tribute page that you can link to by clicking the ‘Jocko Johnson” button on our home page. The page starts out with Jocko’s own explanation of his innovative Power ring radial engine which he later called his “Truth engine”. Jocko was working on this radical engine at the time of his death.  Jocko believed that the piston, crankshaft and connecting rod engine we are so familiar with today is an obsolete farce of engineering mistakes. He called his radical new radial, piston spinning a cam engine the “Truth engine” and believed once perfected and revealed. It would change the way we build internal combustion engines forever.

     The tribute site also has photos of some of Jocko’s famous automotive and racing car designs as well as one ( the Spirit of Twenty Nine Palms) which he was still working on. I took most of the photos but the ones of the Wynn’s Liner dragster were given to me and taken by LSR historian Franklin Ratliff.

     Also writer Cole Coonce has a hip metaphoric write up on Jocko that is fun to read. Check it out at Coonce also wrote a book about Jocko and the Romeo Palamides/ Glen Leasher Infinity LSR  jet car. The book is called Infinity Over Zero. I bought it and read it a few years back. It has a lot of good data but the overly metaphoric writing style was just a little to hip for this old dude and I didn’t understand a lot of it.

     I have talked a lot about Jocko in the past. He was a man’s man as well as a ladies man. He was strong, sincere and honest. He was an original in the every sense of the word and followed no one. Jocko loved beautiful flowing form and shape as well as beautiful women. Joanie his long time wife and best friend told me that when they came to take his body, one of the people who showed up was a tall beautiful blonde bombshell of a woman dressed in a high fashion slick suit and pumps. Joanie laughed about Jocko being ever the ladies man even at the time of his death. Jocko always the “giver” had decided awhile back to donate his body to help others. So there was no funeral.

     I may have told you this story before but it is a good one so it bares repeating….Jocko and I were talking one time and I was telling him all about my rocket car designs and their rocket engines. Jocko listened to me carefully and when I was finished he said…” Yeah, Waldo that is all very cool but all you are doing is taking an engine that was built to go 25,000 miles per hour and making it go maybe 1,000. That’s nothing… Try doing what I am doing…Take an engine that was designed to go 100 miles per hour and make it go 500 miles per hour. Now that’s something!” I had nothing to say to that. He had me there.

     Another time Jocko was showing me a model of his “Triple Nickel (555)” LSR car design. Jocko didn’t realize it but the car was actually an external Venturi. The entire body was shaped to accelerate the airflow around it. This was done by Wasp shaping the center section and making the tail section smaller than the nose.   I thought that it was a novel concept  and decided to do it one better and came up with my “Single Plane Force” streamliner design which I considered a step forward from Jocko’s Triple Nickel. After many years I did a lot of calculations and realized that Jocko’s original design would probably be much cleaner. Well, you live and learn.

     Joanie is currently looking for someone to take up the torch and continue Jocko’s work on the “Truth” engine. Only time will tell what will become of this world shaking engine design and Jocko’s last example of his self taught unassuming genius. Joanie said that as Jocko was dying the last words from his lips as he was fading away were….. “Truth….Truth….Truth”. Man, I hear you Jocko…..Waldo