Drag racing is full of amazing stories, but the tale of a jet dragster clocking over 400kmh in an Australian mining town might be one of the best.
We recently came across this brilliant yarn from Rosco McGlashan, Australia’s land speed record holder and a former jet dragster driver. McGlashan had been on the east coast performing at some drag strips with his Aussie Invader car. Passing through Boulder, a gold mining town in the WA outback, McGlashan got an unusual request from a French film company. We’ll let him take it from here.
“Recently I went back to Kalgoorlie with team member Mark Read and it brought back memories of about 25 years ago, being asked by a French film company to race my jet-powered dragster, Aussie Invader 1, down a main street in Boulder, a sister town to Kalgoorlie.
“I was on my way home from a drag racing meeting on Australia’s east coast. What the director of this film company wanted was an impossibility. He wanted me to race my jet dragster down a public street on a Sunday morning at very high speed. If I remember rightly the expression I used was, ‘As long as my backside points to the ground, it will not happen.’ We needed Police, Main Roads, the Shire and the Mayor’s permission to do this. I think by now the statute of limitations has exceeded, so I can tell this story.
“Lucky I knew the Mayor and the Police Chief and after a discussion on safety and to my surprise they were able to make a decision (yes). We lined up our dragster alongside the Grand Hotel in Brockman Street with her pointing southbound, every available cop or person with any authority stood guard on all of the alleys and side streets leading onto Brockman Street. We started Aussie Invader 1 and I wound her up to 108%, performing several burner pops on the way to max RPM. A suicidal French camera man positioned himself in the middle of the intersection. I lit the burner and blasted past where he was, not wanting to deploy the chutes in case he got caught up in them. Our dragster ended up a long way down Brockman Street stopping at a T-junction. Everyone, including me, could not believe what had just happened.
“Then the producer asked us to do it all again. I will never forget the horror on the faces of everyone involved when we started preparing for a second run. This will never happen again in this country, I can assure you.
“A cop with a speed gun said we exceeded 420km/h (260mph) down Brockman Street. I think I would have lost my licence for that one, but probably set a record for the highest speed over the limit on a public road in Australia, as I was 360km/h (220mph) over the speed limit. For any kids out there, racing is for racetracks, so please do not try and beat that record.
“This brings me on to my next point. To this day, I have never seen that footage and would love to hear from anyone who has or knows of its whereabouts, or who owns it. If anyone knows of someone who has personal pictures or footage of either run, I would really appreciate seeing a copy.
“While there on my recent trip, I caught up with the publican ‘Smitty’ at the Grand and relived this event, and he claims he still has nightmares about it. Smitty also produced the picture you see with this story from behind the bar, as everyone he tells does not believe him, and we managed to talk him in to letting us have it, but I would still like to find others if possible. Exciting times.”