Land Speed Records USA

Sir Malcolm Campbell broke nine land speed records between 1924 and 1935, with three at Pendine Sands and five at Daytona Beach. His first two records were driving a racing car built by Sunbeam.

On 4 February 1927, Sir Malcolm set the land speed record at Pendine Sands, covering the Flying Kilometre (in an average of two runs) at 174.883 mph (281.447 km/h) and the Flying Mile in 174.224 mph (280.386 km/h), in the Napier-Campbell Blue Bird.

He set his final land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on 3 September 1935, and was the first person to drive an automobile over 300mph, averaging (301.337 mph (484.955 km/h)) in two passes.

Land Speed Records in US

19th February 1928: 206.95 mph Campbell-Napier, Daytona Beach

5th February 1931: 246.09 mph Campbell-Napier-Railton, Daytona Beach

24th February 1932: 253.97 mph Campbell-Napier-Railton, Daytona Beach

22nd February 1933: 272.46 mph Campbell-Railton-Rolls Royce, Daytona Beach

7th March 1935: 276.82 mph Campbell-Railton-Rolls Royce, Bonneville

3rd September 1935: 301.13 mph Campbell-Railton-Rolls Royce, Bonneville

Water Speed Record in US

16th November 1955: 216.20 mph Bluebird K7, Donald Campbell, Lake Mead, Nevada

Bonneville, 1960

Following the low-speed tests conducted at Goodwood,  CN7 was taken by Donald to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA (scene of his father’s last LSR triumph in 1935.) Gina waved Donald and Tonia off from London airport – accompanied by the ubiquitous Mr Whoppit.

The Bonneville attempt however, which was heavily sponsored by BP and Dunlop (as well as many other British motor component companies) was unsuccessful.

(It seems that Donald’s American Dream was just not to be: there had also been an unsuccessful attempt at the Water Speed Record in 1957 at Canandaigua in New York state, which failed due to lack of suitable water conditions.)

Donald’s hopes in America seemed jinxed: Bluebird CN7 was written off following a high-speed crash on the 16th of September. As you can see from the tyre marks in the photo below, Donald veered dramatically off course.

Donald suffered a fracture to his lower skull and a broken ear drum, as well as cuts and bruises. (He was extremely lucky to survive this crash.) He convalesced in California until November 1960. (Which meant some serious jet-set partying with the Hollywood crowd.) Meanwhile, plans had been put in motion to rebuild CN7 for a further attempt.

His confidence was severely shaken, he was suffering mild panic attacks, and for some time he doubted whether he would ever return to record breaking. As part of his recuperation he learned to fly light aircraft; this new interest contributed greatly to his recovery. In fact, his love of piloting ensured Donald soon bought his own light aircraft (which proved useful when camped in the middle of nowhere, when attempting a new land speed record in Australia!)  By 1961, he was on the road to recovery and planning the rebuild of CN7.


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