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Don Vesco holds Hot Rod Magazine's prestigious Top Time Trophy. He is the only person to have received this award for both a car and a motorcycle (322 mph 1978)

The Vescos determined that piston engines where not the right answer to their needs and turned their attention to turbines instead. Around the mid 90's they started to convert their car, using an AVCO Lycoming T55 helicopter turbine for power. Rechristened the Turbinator, it was first shown, but not raced, in 1996.

At that point it still looked very much like the original Offy engined version. When it reappeared at Speed Week in 1997 the section between the cockpit and the tail fin had changed quite a bit, with new large air intakes on the sides to bring air to the turbine.
The performance was most encouraging. For World of Speed more changes were made to the air intakes which gave it its final shape, then at the World Finals it showed its full potential by doing a pass over the kilo at 438.897 MPH and setting a new SCTA record for Turbine vehicles at 400.833 MPH average over the mile (the record still belonged to Ermie Immerso's Thunderbird Turbine.

The car ran again in 1998, both at Speed Week and World of Speed, sporting a slightly smaller tailfin, but salt and weather conditions did not allow significant speeds.
In 1999 the old three-tone paintwork gave way to a new amazing airbrushed livery by Von Otto, obviously a lucky touch, since Don Vesco bettered the SCTA turbine record twice, first at Speed Week and then at the World Finals, with an average of 427.832 MPH. This record was regarded by many people as a new wheel-driven LSR. It was indeed the fastest record ever set under SCTA rules and significantly faster than both the current FIA piston engine (still Al Teague's) and turbine (Donald Campbell's) wheel-driven records, although unfortunately Vesco failed to do a return run within an hour in order to set an International Record under the more restrictive FIA rules.

In 2000, Turbinator was not ready in time for Speed Week and World of Speed; then heavy rains hit the Salt Flats before the World Finals and further attempts had to be cancelled. In the meantime, at World of Speed the Burkland streamliner was clocked at 438 one way.

October 18, 2001, at the Bonneville Nationals Inc. World Finals time trials, Don Vesco driving "The Turbinator" set the all out land speed record for wheel driven cars at 458.440 mph. Prior to the World Finals event Don had set three consecutive national records in excess of 400 mph: World Finals 1997 - 400 mph, 1999 - 417 and 427 mph. Don and "The Turbinator" drove over 400 mph than any other car in history. On one run Don's exit speed reached 470 mph and was still accelerating! 500 mph was within Don's reach.

Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile
1997 Bonneville World Finals Don Vesco USA Turbinator     400.833 Class T/III
Sanctioned by SCTA/BNI
1999 Bonneville World Finals Don Vesco USA Turbinator     427.832 Class T/III
Sanctioned by SCTA/BNI

October 18, 2001

Bonneville Salt Flats, USA

Don Vesco


T55-L-11A SA




Set new mark for wheel driven vehicles powered by a Turbine engine