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Courage of Australia
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On November 11, 1971, Bill Fredricks' Courage of Australia rocket car, became the quickest and fastest to blast down a quarter mile achieving 5.10 at 311mph. This mini version of the Blue Flame LSR car signaled the beginning of the rocket car revolution in drag racing for the next ten years. Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Drag Race Central
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Task master Bill Fredricks carefully dialed in the fuel flow, the higher the fuel percentage, the faster the car would go. Under Fredricks direction, Wilson started the process of heating the catalyst engine screen. Short burst of fuel on the screen soon turned from smoke to clear. That signaled the purple land missile was ready to rock. Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Drag Race Central
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The purple beauty was carefully fueled with hydrogen peroxide and prepped by its highly skilled crew for its soon to be record run. Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Drag Race Central
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A Drag News cover the following week and then the March 1972 cover and feature for Drag Racing USA. Possibly the first time a rocket car appeared on an automotive magazine cover. Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Drag Race Central
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After the record pass of 5.10 at 311 mph, model Stephanie Rose and the Aussie rocket. Driver Vic Wilson liked hangin' out with Mrs. Rose. Source: Drag Race Central
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Source: Coastal 181
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Source: Pintrest
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12 January, 1972 Source: Getty Images
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Vic Wilson leaves the starting point in his jet car smoke and heat can be seen belching from the rocket engine at the rear of the car. 12 January, 1972 Source: Getty Images
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Australian Hot Rod 1972 Source: Speed Way and Road Race History

Chuck Suba’s X-1 Risolene Rocket 5.41 second elapsed time setin 1967 remained drag racing's all-time low ET until November 11, 1971 when the second hydrogen peroxide rocket dragster, Bill Fredrick's Courage of Australia driven by Vic Wilson, recorded a 5.107 second 311 mph pass during private testing at Orange County International Raceway, California. In doing so, it became the first car of any kind to run 300 mph in a quarter mile. The Courage of Australia was essentially a scaled-down Blue Flame clone. Nitrogen was contained in a spherical bottle mounted in the nose forward of the single front wheel with the hydrogen peroxide in a horizontal tank forward of the cockpit.

The 27’, 1,100 lb. three wheeled needle-shaped monocoque machine was powered by a 12,000 HP, hydrogen peroxide-fueled silver screen cayalyst, thrust rocket engine that developed 6,100 pounds of thrust. It was built in just 11 weeks

Despite the reluctance (actually, refusal) of the NHRA to sanction the rockets as a real class (the NHRA remains the de facto arbiters of all things drag racing and they refused to acknowledge or publish any jet car “records” as the cars were relegated to the “exhibition class” status (or “exploding clowns” as the dragster crowd sniffed)), the rocket car scene flourished like a comet. Its luminescence was just as brief. The triumphs, mishaps and tragedy left in its wake were legion and belie the brevity of the rocket car’s moment in the sun.

After setting the new record in the States, Bill shipped the car to Australiain January 1972 to make exhibition runs at a number of drag strips there, where he set the Australian record at 243 mile per hour in 6.52 seconds.

In 1973 while at Irwindale Raceway John Paxson was with Bill testing a new motor with a reported 8,500 pounds of thrust in the Courage of Australia, and after a parachute failure, it drove through the sand traps, pole vaulted and landed upside down on the vehicle’s vertical stabilizer. Paxson was uninjured, but the car was reportedly destroyed. The failure was later found to be because the new rocket engine was much longer than the original and the chutes simply got stuck.

Late news: further research has turned up a photo of the car sitting in a blokes garage in New Zealand!

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