Morning Symphony: The 1968 Howmet TX – Turbine Power For The Win!

Morning Symphony: The 1968 Howmet TX – Turbine Power For The Win!

As an aviation geek (and former technician) I still have a huge spot in my heart for anything powered by a turbine. From the lowly AGPU ground generators to the Allison turbines that powered the OH-58D Kiowa Warriors I worked on, most of my work for nearly nine years involved the kind of power you get with the weird whistling/wooshing noise that comes with the turbine engine. The automotive world hasn’t been as quick to adapt to the turbine…sure, Chrysler made numerous attempts up until the early 1980s,  but that was just about it. Or was it?

What you are going to see and hear is the 1968 Howmet TX (Turbine Experimental) Group 6 prototype racer. It isn’t the first turbine racer, but it is the first and only turbine-powered machine to actually win a race. It’s also held FIA land speed records. Powered by Continental TS325-1 turbine engines that were originally quoted at being 181 cubic inches in displacement, which let the TX compete in the under-3,000cc class of Group 6. Realistically, though, the engine was well above the limit and the 350 horsepower and 650 ft/lbs of torque were plenty enough to keep the machine on the move. The cars competed in the 1968 SCCA National Championship with solid results and for 1969, went land-speed racing after the SCCA program was deemed too expensive.

The Continental engines had to be returned, but you are probably hearing an Allison 250-series turbine engine instead. Fun fact: That’s the same engine I got to listen to every day on the flightline.

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3 thoughts on “Morning Symphony: The 1968 Howmet TX – Turbine Power For The Win!

  1. Matt Cramer

    Coming up with a displacement number for that engine must have been a bit of an arbitrary decision – trying to go with how much air it moved per shaft revolution changes with the RPM (and a lot more than on a piston engine), and I suspect even if they’d run the numbers on maximum RPM, a number based on real air moved divided by RPM would have put the displacement even lower.

  2. nada

    Saw (and HEARD) it at Le Mans Classic 2018, amazing car. Sounded like a low flying jet plane as it approached the Dunlop curve.

  3. KCR

    I inow a guy ,that years ago raced a turbine sprint car.He said it was a one race deal.

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