Friday, November 15, 2013

Breedlove Sets A New Land Speed Record

On Nov. 15, 1965, Craig Breedlove established a new land speed record of 600.601 miles per hour. Breedlove accomplished his feat in a unique car with the power of a jet. His top speed actually peaked at more than 608 miles per hour.

However, the record was taken as a combined average of two runs.

Breedlove was also the first man to go faster than 400 miles per hour and 500 miles per hour.

Before Breedlove would set the high-speed record of over 600 MPH in 1965, he began trying to beat the then land speed record of 350 MPH in 1962.

In 1962, he made his first attempt, in a freewheeling tricycle (ignoring FIA rules requiring four wheels, at least two driven; in the event, FIM happily accepted it) powered by a General Electric J47 engine.

On Aug. 5, 1963, this first Spirit made her first record attempt, using just 90% of available thrust to reach 388.47 mph (625.18 km/h) over the measured mile. The return pass, on 95% power, turned up a two-way average of 407.45 mph (655.73 km/h).  Spirit of America was so light on the ground; she did not even need to change tires afterward.

For 1964, Breedlove faced competition from Walt Arfons' Wingfoot Express (piloted by Tom Green), as well as from brother Art Arfons in his four-wheel FIA-legal Green Monster.

With more engine power, Breedlove upped the record to 468.72 mph (754.33 km/h) "With almost insolent ease,” said Breedlove. Then to 526.28 mph (846.97 km/h), making him the first man to exceed 500 mph (800 km/h).

This pass was not without incident, however, for one of his drogue parachute's shroud lines parted, and Spirit of America ran on for 5 mi (8.0 km) before near-missing a telegraph pole and coming to rest in a lake.

This record stood all of twelve days before Green Monster broke it, recording a two-run average of 536.71 mph (863.75 km/h).

In response, Breedlove built a FIA-legal four-wheeler, Sonic 1, powered by a 15,000 lbf (67 kN) J79.

On Nov. 2, 1965, Breedlove entered the FIA record book with a two-run average of 555.483 mph (893.963 km/h). This lasted even less time than before, for Green Monster came back five days later at 576.553 mph (927.872 km/h).

Then on Nov. 15, 1965, Breedlove responded with a 600.601 mph (966.574 km/h) record (after turning in an amazing 608.201 mph (978.805 km/h) return pass), which held until 1970. (It would be broken by Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame, which reached 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h).)

To take the record back, Breedlove planned a supersonic rocket car, complete with ejector seat. (After winding up in a lake, this is understandable.)

Also in 1965, Breedlove's wife, Lee, took the seat in Sonic 1, making four passes and achieving 308.506 mph (496.492 km/h),  making her the fastest woman alive, and making them the fastest couple, which they remain.