Bedfordshire duo break UK land speed record with historic run in classic car

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Sharnbrook father and son duo transform rusted heap into record-breaker

A father and son duo from Bedfordshire set a new UK straight-line speed record after renovating The Flying Kestrel, a 1930s Riley Kestrel 9 that they found rotting in a barn in Holland

Nigel and Joel McNally, from Sharnbrook, broke the record for a Class D 2.5 litre engine for the Half Mile Standing Start by over a second, recording a speed of 159.634 mph - as ratified by the UK and International Timing Adjudicators.

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They found The Flying Kestrel rotting in a barn in Holland in early 2020 and after renovating it during lockdown they set a new straight-line UK land speed record at Elvington Track in Yorkshire.

(L to R) Joel McNally,Nigel McNally and driver and engineer Jonathan Webster(L to R) Joel McNally,Nigel McNally and driver and engineer Jonathan Webster
(L to R) Joel McNally,Nigel McNally and driver and engineer Jonathan Webster

Nigel McNally founder and CEO of Brookfield Drinks and The Kestrel Brewing Co, said: “Plenty of people told us we couldn’t do it. We have had setbacks and issues, particularly with the aerodynamics on such an old-style 1930s body shape, but we have never lost faith.

"Jon and the entire Kestrel team have worked tirelessly and with utter determination to do such an amazing job and I am so proud of all of them.

"We have learned a lot from the experience and are already planning to get back to Elvington soon and set some more records that would see us break through the 200mph barrier.”

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The last time The Flying Kestrel was on the track for a test day, it crashed, but its driver and lead engineer Jonathan Webster escaped unscathed.

The record breaking Flying KestrelThe record breaking Flying Kestrel
The record breaking Flying Kestrel

The car, with trademark fastback styling, had not been touched since 1965 when Nigel and Joel found it.

They commissioned Santa Pod based Webster Engineering to the ambitious restoration project, which saw it fitted with a specially modified 2.5 litre, 5-cylinder engine capable of 900bhp.

Trevor Duckworth of the UK and International Timings Adjudicators in accordance with Motorsport UK said: "Records like this are extremely tough challenges when you consider the heritage of this wonderful old car, but seeing the Kestrel Racing team return a year after their first record attempt, we have all seen how hard they have worked on the project.

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"They have never lost belief that they could do this and so we congratulate them."

Car-mad father and son duo, Nigel and Joel McNally of The Kestrel Brewing Company, discovered the car and commissioned Webster Engineering to the ambitious restoration project.

Renowned for designing and building bespoke race-winning vehicles at its state-of-the-art studio at Santa Pod Raceway, the company holds numerous records at virtually every national race car event.

John Webster, its principal, has been involved in the build of numerous high-profile vehicles including the world record holding four-cylinder Ford Focus created for Ford USA.

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The car will now take pride of place in Kestrel’s extensive new marketing programme, becoming a roving brand ambassador with its own range of clothing and merchandising, a dedicated website and social media channels, brand advertising and PR campaigns.