Just a few months ago, if you were trying to get from, say, Gerlach, Nev., to Jungo, Nev., you would have had to endure an arduous crossing of the 50 miles of scorching desert in between.
By conventional car, that would have taken nearly an hour.Bring your canteen!
But now, thanks to the new supersonic jet-powered car, which on Oct. 15 set a land speed record of 763.035 miles an hour, that trip will take a scant 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Go ahead, check the math. You'd be a fool to waste time crossing ancient dry lake beds by any other means.
The practical applications are endless.
For example: a man who had been mauled by a bear in the back woods of Idaho wouldn't have to settle for some sawbones at the county hospital when a specialist in Baton Rouge is a scant 1.5 hours away by hypersonic ambulance.
A pipe dream, you say? Well, when the day comes that you're ravaged by an enraged grizzly, chances are you'll look down at your mangled arm and say: "Rocket car. I wish I had a rocket car."
And let's talk about safety. The new Mach-plus roadster would allow all the convenience of airplane speed with none of the perilous height. Remember the words "plunge" and "plummet" are rarely associated with automobiles.
Your paper boy could bring you fast-breaking news, and the milkman would deliver the freshest dairy products imaginable.
Unfortunately, right now deserts are the best (nay, only) places to operate these long-awaited trans-sonic vehicles. Due to shortsightedness at the Department of Transportation, our present highway system still includes turns. The Mach 1 car is upon us, and we aren't ready.
Clearly, the future belongs to the long, flat, sandy straightaway. Progress demands that perfectly straight roads of hard-packed, sun-baked sand be built between all the major cities in the United States. While the expense of this may seem prohibitive, this could be offset somewhat by making them toll roads.
However, to avoid unnecessary deployment of the braking parachute, the cars would simply roar through the toll plazas and coins would be tossed out the window into enlarged change baskets the size of, say, football fields. Or, if the larger basket isn't practical, the driver could simply lead his throw. Approaching the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey, the driver would lob his $1.75 out around Paramus.
Why should we take the time to retool our entire interstate transportation system, level mountains and fill in wetlands to build these massive Machways? Well, imagine for a moment how history would be altered if, after the steam train was invented, we had refused to lay railroad tracks, or after Eli Whitney invented the gin, we had refused to grow cotton.
While there are those who will say that any sufficiently good idea will survive no matter what the obstacles, that is not always the case. Remember, it was the Taft administration's refusal to subsidize an elaborate system of giant nets that killed the fledgling human cannonball industry.
What will tomorrow bring? A rocket car in every driveway! Soon we'll be enjoying shorter commutes. We'll be getting home earlier and sleeping later, after we get used to the sonic boom as the milk truck goes by.
And once we pave the oceans, there'll be no stopping us.