Motoramic

October 15: Craig Breedlove hits 526 mph before crashing on this date in 1964

Justin Hyde
Motoramic

Last year's successful leap by Felix Baumgartner recalled an earlier age when daredevils were still looking for feats of speed on land, led by a California firefighter who believed the best way to go fast was to strap yourself to a jet engine. Before Craig Breedlove starting running across the Bonneville Salt Flats, the world land speed record had been held by piston-engined vehicles; under a loophole for motorcycles, Breedlove's team designed a jet-powered three wheeler. The Spirit of America hit 526 mph on this date in 1964, becoming the fastest land vehicle ever — and when its parachute malfunctioned and the Spirit landed in a salt pond, it also set the Guinness world record for longest skidmarks. Breedlove would spend the next few decades chasing the record with ever-faster jet vehicles, eventually being surpassed by the same team now building the supersonic Bloodhound SSC. But no man has ever been more deserving of his own Beach Boys song:

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