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Rosco McGlashan… a bloke in a shed… who loves speed

Rosco McGlashan holds the Australian land speed record and unofficially* holds the world land speed record … but the Australian Tax Office seems to have crushed his dream of hitting 1600km/h.

ROSCO MCGLASHAN. Do you remember him? The plucky Aussie battler drove his land speed record car in 1994 to a bonkers 802.6km/h to claim the Australian land speed record.

Then, two years later, McGlashan took his new, faster car back to Lake Gairdner in South Australia and hit a staggering 1026.76km/h* blowing the then world land speed record of 1018.71km/h into the weeds. That record had been set by Richard Noble in his Thrust SSC. But, McGlashan’s speed wasn’t recognised because an approaching rainstorm prevented him from turning his car around and running it at full speed in the opposite direction. You need two runs (one one way and the other the other), over a set course length for the record to be verified and it has to exceed the last record by at least 1% to be verified.

And now the ‘rules’ are being used to deny McGlashan the chance to take on the UK’s Bloodhound SSC land speed car to hit 1600km/h… The two teams, McGlashan and Richard Noble (project manager at Bloodhound SSC) are old sparring partners and each one wants the other to succeed.

But that now looks unlikely for McGlashan who’s been told by the Australian Tax Office that a near half-million-dollar grant he’d been offered and partly paid was being withdrawn and that he would have to pay back $180,000 of the grant that he’d already spent. It’s sent McGlashan to the wall with the ATO calling in liquidators.

Now, so you know, McGlashan’s Aussie Invader outfit is about as far away from the Bloodhound SSC project as you could get. The latter has plenty of deep-pocketed investment and assistance, while McGlashan is literally building his car in his shed. Sure, he’s got some very clever and generous people helping him build the thing but, he’s still building it in a shed. You don’t get more Aussie than that.

Bloodhound SSC’s Richard Noble (and that car will try hitting 1600km/h later this year in South Africa) has written publically to McGlashan offering him support. He wrote: “Our car, Bloodhound SSC, combines the engine from a current jet fighter with a new form of hybrid rocket being designed for the next generation of space launchers.

“Aussie Invader meanwhile is a pure – rocket design which may be the most powerful vehicle ever driven on the face of the earth [and it’s being built in a shed, remember that – Ed].

“We sincerely hope, therefore, that the difficulties faced by the Aussie Invader team can be overcome and that Australia backs its guys and sends them out onto the pitch. The Supersonic Ashes are at stake…”

So, there you go, support and a metaphorical gauntlet thrown down.

And let’s remember one thing here, beside the shed, and that is that trying to hit 1600km/h is, on land, faster than the speed of sound which is roughly, give or take the air density, 1200km/h.

McGlashan has refused to give up, though and has set up a fighting fund to get the ATO to reverse its decision to withdraw his grant. And, in typical McGlashan style, he’s already spoken with the Prime Minister. You can contribute by following this LINK.

The land speed record is unfinished business for McGlashan… we’ve made TV shows about Peter Brock and now Paul Hogan, but what about McGlashan… he’s every bit as colourful as those two and… let’s not forget he built both his land speed record cars, and now his third, in a shed. In his back yard. And he lives in the suburbs, not in some palatial mansion on acres on the outskirts of Perth.

I’ve had the good fortune to have met McGlashan and talked about this Aussie Invader land speed car in his shed, while leaning on its fuselage. If he hadn’t already achieved bonkers speeds in cars built in his shed then you’d say it was mad to think he could do it, but he has already done it, so there’s no reason why, with the right support, this Aussie battler can’t strap in and ride his land rocket to 1600km/h. Really, his chance of success is in our hands.

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Mark Read
Mark Read
7 years ago

Great article and spot on. Please help us keep this iconic project alive. This is not an ego trip for Rosco he and the Aussie Invader team are doing this for Australia to bring the world land speed record to this country for the first time. He is also helping to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and mathematicians as he constantly speaks in schools and clubs for no charge. Please support the project at

Hsh Haycock
Hsh Haycock
7 years ago

The tax office R&D Tax Incentive is mean to support companies during the non-income period of product development. The Aussie Invader Team is not developing a product which would lead to taxable income in the future for the tax office to recoup their investment. So they should not be eligible for the tax offset. Note it is a refundable tax offset and not a grant.

Chris BT
Chris BT
7 years ago

Should be renamed the UnAustralian Tax Office…
Go Rosco! 👍

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober