A heart built for flight but at home on the track.
The Howmet TX “Turbine eXperimental”
This innovative American prototype racer came to fruition in 1968 to see if gas turbine engines would work in competition use.
Planned by Ray Heppenstall, the TX chassis was built by McKee Engineering, the turbine engines leased from Continental Aviation & Engineering, and Howmet Corporation financed the project.
This was not the first turbine powerplant in auto racing, but the Howmet TX was the first and is still the only turbine to win a race, earning two SCCA victories and two qualifying sprint win during its one and only year of competition.
The TX later set six FIA land speed records for turbine power cars when it was retired from wheel to wheel racing.
Powering the two Howmet TXs were leased Continental Aviation & Engineering TS325-1 gas turbines. These prototypes came from an aborted contract bid for a military helicopter which Continental was not using these engines at the time.
The 2,960cc/181cid two stage gas turbines weighed just 170 pounds, pumped out 350 hp, massive 650 pound feet of torque, and turned a staggering maximum of 57,000 rpm!
Crazy to think that by 1970 the turbine powered car was no longer experimented with and has never really been used in wheel to wheel racing since.
The Back Roads