The Fastest Forklift Speed Ever Recorded Was 74.5 MPH

The Thrust SSC, holder of the land speed record, on display at the Coventry Transport Museum (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The Thrust SSC, holder of the land speed record, on display at the Coventry Transport Museum (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

What is man’s fascination with speed? From the beginning of time, men have competed to see who could run the fastest.

Today, Jamaican runner Usain Bolt is widely considered to be the world’s fastest man, having won the 2016 Olympic Games 100-meter race in just 9.81 seconds. Bolt has won the Olympic gold at three consecutive Games, an all-time record.

Land Speed Record for All Vehicles

The land speed record for humans was set in 1997 by Andy Green, a fighter pilot wing commander with the UK’s Royal Air Force, who was behind the wheel of the specially designed Thurst SSC vehicle when was clocked at 763 mph in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

The Thrust SSC, as well as its sister vehicle, the Thrust 2, were powered by dual Rolls-Royce afterburning turbofan engines, the same type used in the F-4 Phantom fighter jet. Both vehicles currently are on display at the Coventry Transport Museum, in Coventry, England.

Linde Material Handling is among the sponsors of the BLOODHOUND Project, an effort to top 1,000 mph in a land vehicle. The vehicle, which also will be piloted by Green, was scheduled to make the newest attempt at the land speed record in South Africa as early as this year.

Land Speed Record for Forklifts

Both the Thrust SSC and the BLOODHOUND were aerodynamically designed to slide through the forces of wind, friction, gravity and more.

Forklifts decidedly are not.

Instead, forklifts are industrial vehicles designed with the purpose of lifting and moving palletized materials and other heavy objects.

Still, there are those who seek to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records for all kinds of crazy reasons, including “world’s fastest forklift operator.”

While Guinness still hasn’t officially proclaimed that title on anybody, an anonymous New Zealander reportedly drove a forklift 119 kilometers per hour, or 74.5 miles per hour, on a stretch of remote New Zealand highway in 2009.

The feat was reported not by the person behind the wheel, but by police in the remote Kiwi town of Paraparaumu who said a forklift registered to the Lindsay Carrying Company was clocked at that speed on State Highway 1.

The forklift company’s owner says it wasn’t them and that the vehicle’s license plate may have been stolen and applied to another vehicle. They did, however, proudly post the speeding ticket on the company’s wall.

So while the identity of the world’s fastest forklift operator remains a mystery, the top speed that needs to be beaten to set the new record does not.


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