Bluebird, Lake Eyre 1963/4…

Posted: November 6, 2018 in Fotos, Icons & Iconoclasts, Obscurities
Tags: , , ,

(J Frith)

‘All set, everything ship shape!’…

I’ve already written a couple of articles about Donald Campbell’s achievements against the odds of the weather gods at Lake Eyre, South Australia during the winters of 1963 and 1964.

He had a torrid time from the media, his sponsors- many of whom he lost during that first year, the public and some in the Australian Parliament.

Click below for a brilliant article, the best written, about Campbell’s ultimately successful record attempt by the late Evan Green, a superb Australian motoring and motor-racing journalist, very talented rally and race driver and the man appointed by Campbell’s major sponsor in 1964, Ampol, to manage the program from Muloorina Station and Lake Eyre- so it is very much a first-hand participants account.

It provides useful context for this small random selection of cartoons and photographs.

https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/classic-wheels-donald-campbell-and-his-bluebird-car-world-speed-record

The first cartoon is by John E Frith, one of Australia’s great cartoonists who worked early in his career for the Sydney Morning Herald and later for the Melbourne Herald (as here I suspect) and is dated 26 April 1963.

It shows DC about to close the cockpit of Bluebird, with a dutiful salute being provided. ‘SS Bluebird’ is an amalgam of plane, ship and car carrying the colours of both Britain and Australia, the watching kangaroo and aboriginal are amusing, the latter totally politically incorrect these days!

Bluebird Proteus CN7 Lake Eyre 1964 (J Carter)

 

Jeff Carter’s photo was taken during the 1964 attempt.

His caption reads ‘Donald Campbell’s attempt on the world speed record in a vehicle driven through the wheels (not jet propelled) dragged on for almost two years during the winters of 1963 and 1964.

Fluctuating dampness of the dry saltpan that is Lake Eyre was a major problem, making it difficult to maintain a perfectly smooth, dry, hard surface for the many necessary practice runs and the final attempt.

Sponsors grew impatient with the endless delays and withdrew support. New sponsors had to be found.

Campbell’s unpredictable temperament was a factor in splitting the large group of sponsors, technicians, caterers, time-keepers etc- some 60 or more people in two camps.

Eventually in the late winter of 1964, the 4,500 horsepower jet-engined Bluebird attained a new Land Speed Record of 403.1miles per hour (an average) of its top speeds on two consecutive runs, north and south.

Craig Breedlove, driving a jet-propelled vehicle on a salt lake in the USA achieved a considerably higher speed in 1964. His vehicle was not driven through the wheels. In this photo, technicians, time keepers, photographers and photographers play football beteen practice runs’. (look carefully, you can see the ball)

(J Carter)

Jeff Carter was the official photographer for the attempt, representing the international photo agency ‘Black Star’.

‘When nothing much was happening in the Campbell/Bluebird camp, I and other members of the press would adjourn to Marree, (above) where nothing much was happening either!’

(LAT)

Of course everything did eventually get to a stage where Campbell drove the car in conditions which were still sub-optimal as related in Even Green’s article- but good enough to have a crack and placate those who had been more than patient with him for an inordinate amount of time. 17 July 1964.

The good citizens of Adelaide, a good proportion of the cities total population turned out to see the Bluebird parade on King William Street, and so they should.

It was a remarkable achievement.

(NAA)

Bluebird…

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/16/50-years-ago-today-17-july-1964-donald-campbell-broke-the-world-land-speed-record-in-bluebird-at-lake-eyre-south-australia-a-speed-of-403-10-mph/

Credits…

John Frith, Jeff Carter, Article by Evan Green in ‘Wheels’ magazine, National Archive of Australia, LAT

Tailpiece: Ground Control to Major Donald…

(J Frith)

John Frith has captured the adventure of the times with this cartoon dated 16 May 1963, the Apollo space program is in full swing- the space-race is underway. The astronaut returns to earth in sunny conditions but below him are dark clouds which have caused flooding on Lake Eyre, stranding Campbell and Bluebird with DC atop the troubled vehicle…

Finito…

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