Posts Tagged ‘Land Speed Record’

(Malindine)

Kaye Don’s Sunbeam ‘Silver Bullet’ in the UK on 8 January 1934…

Photographer ‘Malindine’ took this wonderful shot after an unsuccessful Land Speed Record attempt at Daytona Beach- ‘despite its streamlined shape and powerful engine, the car only managed a disappointing 190 mph’ the Daily Herald caption records.

The record Don sought to break was that of Malcolm Campbell who set a mark of 272.46 mph in Campbell-Railton Bluebird- 36.7 litres of Rolls Royce supercharged aero V12 provided the power.

One of the things which always intrigues me is the juxtaposition of racing cars- in this case a LSR car, with the more mundane road transport of the day and amongst normal citizenry street scenes rather than at a race track.

How ‘other worldly’ the Silver Bullet must have seemed to the good folks of whatever town or village in which the photo was taken- does anybody happen to know the locale?

Kaye Don aboard the completed car at Sunbeam prior to its trip to Daytona (unattributed)

 

Silver Bullet in build- two compact 50 degree V12’s clear as is the centrifugal supercharger housing (unattributed)

Don’s steed was the final attempt on the LSR by Sunbeam- key team members were Louis Coatalen, Designer, Mr Kay, Draftsman and Hugh Rose the Production Manager created a car which was powered by two specially built 24 litre 50 degree V12 supercharged engines- these featured light alloy construction, roller bearing cranks, DOHC and four valves per cylinder using an oversquare layout, the motors developed a total of about 4000 horsepower ‘but delivering 920 bhp to the road wheels’.

The gearbox used three speeds, the power was delivered to a semi-elliptic sprung rear axle by splayed drive-shafts. Four wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes were fitted- the machine, its body tested in the Vickers wind-tunnel, was 31 ft long and weighed 6 tons 14 cwt.

Only two engines were built, the car was beset by problems at Daytona, the fundamental issue amongst hundreds was a design one- ‘the very long induction pipes that fed the engines from the rear mounted supercharger were heating up the mixture before reaching the inlet valves, the resultant back-firing damaged the supercharger casing. This was a virtually incurable defect’ wrote Sunbeam historian Anthony S Heal.

After eighteen unsuccessful runs and much work on the car at Daytona the attempt was abandoned- the car arrived back in the UK on 28 April. Checkout Heal’s fascinating detailed account of the car here;

https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/april-1976/46/inside-story-sunbeam-silver-bullet

Sunbeam went into receivership in 1935, so the opening photograph is not too long before that- I wonder what the public occasion was for the shot?

The equally frigid looking April 1929 photo below is of ‘Major Henry Segrave’s ‘Golden Arrow’ being taken through the streets to Selfridges department store, London on returning from Daytona, after breaking the World Land Speed Record’ on 11 March at 231.362 mph.

(Fox Photos)

The Irving-Napier Special (the cars designer was former Sunbeam Engineer Capt JS Irving) ‘Golden Arrow’ was aero-engined, a Napier-Lion supercharged W12 of 23.9 litres provided the thrust- circa 925 bhp, the car weighed 3.5 tonnes.

120,000 spectators watched Segrave, who did only one practice run, before setting the new benchmark by 23.894 mph over that of Ray Keech in ‘White Triplex’.

Segrave returned to the UK and was knighted for his many motor racing, land and water speed achievements whilst Golden Arrow is preserved in the National Motor Museum with ‘only 18.74 miles on the clock’!

(unattributed)

Credits…

Malindine/Daily Herald, Fox Photos, Tom Pennington, Getty Images, Anthony S Heal article in the April 1976 issue of Motorsport magazine

Tailpiece: Red Bull F1 Rally-Car…

(Tom Pennington)

With the advent of the commercialisation of motor racing came the need for mass media coverage of ones sponsorship dollar, a big promotional splash became an imperative of the flotilla of ad and marketing men.

The contrived justaposition by the Red Bull publicity machine of ride ’em cowboy and the Red Bull RB Renault on a Johnson City cattle-ranch outside Austin, Texas in August 2011 was fun and visually potent if totally naff.

More photos here; https://primotipo.com/2015/12/08/ride-em-cowboy/

Finito…

(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…