Case Studies: Thrust SSC

The Thrust SSC team dedicated many years of extensive research to one goal: to create a supersonic car that would break the sound barrier on land.

"Without L-Soft's LISTSERV software, the ThrustSSC project would never have reached the Black Rock Desert, and we would not have taken the first ever supersonic world land speed record."

Between 1992 and 1997, the Thrust SSC team generated much interest and support from a diverse audience as it strived to complete the group's mission. The audience ranged from those with a general interest to sponsors and donors. The team used electronic mailing lists as a means of communicating with the audience. However, as the number of subscribers to the lists grew, it became apparent that their email server package was not scalable enough to handle the volume of mailings.

By the summer of 1996, Thrust SSC could no longer use the existing list's capabilities. "All the list management was being done manually, and huge amounts of emails were taking hours to send via a dialup connection. We realized that we needed a truly robust and automatically managed solution," said Jeremy Davey, Webmaster, Thrust SSC.

Thrust SSC

In searching for the ideal list management software, Thrust SSC realized that a number of key requirements were necessary. These requirements included scalability, high-speed delivery and the ability to manage the lists via a satellite link from their remote location. "We also considered hosting our own email list server on the Internet backbone but rejected this idea because of the peak bandwidth loading and the administrative overhead," Davey said.

Impressed with the delivery speed and technical capabilities of L-Soft's solutions, Thrust SSC chose LISTSERV®, the foremost email list management software. "We considered competitors to L-Soft, but none met our needs so well," Davey said.

On October 15, 1997, in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, the ThrustSSC Team attained their objective of setting a new unlimited world land speed record reaching 763.035mph, or Mach 1.02.

"We use our email lists for maintaining contact with our followers on the Internet. This has been far more effective than we imagined. When the project was about to collapse due to a lack of £125,000 of fuel needed to get to the desert and run the car, one email to our supporters raised 92% of the money required. It is fair to say that our email list capabilities saved the project and resulted in our achieving the first ever supersonic world land speed record," Davey said.

Throughout the project, ThrustSSC ran two lists, with a total of 17,000 subscribers. "The lists grew massively, while the administrative overhead dropped from several to zero hours per week. The time saving was for us a huge bonus. The technical staff had more time to spend on other tasks. The audience really appreciated the service and the information it was able to convey," Davey said. "Without L-Soft's LISTSERV software, the ThrustSSC project would never have reached the Black Rock Desert, and we would not have taken the first ever supersonic world land speed record."

Case study written in August 2000 with the assistance of Jeremy Davey, Webmaster, Thrust SSC.

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