Craig Breedlove

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Spirit of America on exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
An ad promoting Breedlove shattering speed records in a production AMC AMX

Craig Breedlove (born March 23 1937) is a five-time world land speed record holder. He was the first to reach 400 mph (640 km/h), 500 mph (800 km/h), and 600 mph (970 km/h), using several turbojet-powered vehicles that were all named "Spirit of America".

During 1968, Lynn Garrison, President of Craig Breedlove & Associates started to package a deal that saw Utah’s Governor, Calvin Rampton provide a hangar facility for the construction of a supersonic car. Bill Lear, of Learjet fame, was to provide support, along with his friend Art Linkletter. Playboy magazine hoped to have the car painted black, with a white bunny on the rudder. TRW was supplying a lunar lander rocket motor. A change in public interest saw the concept shelved for a period of time.

They also negotiated for the use of the late Donald Campbell's wheel driven Land Speed Record Bluebird.

After a lengthy break from world records and making his name as a real estate agent, Breedlove began work on a new Spirit in 1992, eventually named the Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV. The vehicle is 538 in long, 100 in wide, and 70 in high (13.67 m by 2.54 m by 1.78 m) and weighs 9,000 lb (4,100 kg), construction is on a steel tube or space frame with an aluminium skin body. The engine is the same as in the second Spirit, a General Electric J79, but it is modified to burn unleaded gasoline and generates a maximum thrust of 22,650 lbf (100.75 kN).

The first run of the vehicle in October 28 1996 in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada ended in a crash at around 675 mph (1,086 km/h). Returning in 1997 the vehicle badly damaged the engine on an early run and when the British ThrustSSC managed over 700 mph (1,100 km/h), the re-engined Spirit could do no better than 676 mph (1,088 km/h). Breedlove believes the vehicle is capable of exceeding 800 mph (1,300 km/h), but has yet to demonstrate this.

In late 2006 it was announced[1] that Breedlove sold the car to Steve Fossett who was to make an attempt on the land speed record in 2007, marking the end of an era of land speed record breaking. Tragically, Fossett died in a plane crash in 2007.

Speed records in an AMX

American Motors' two-seat performance car, the 1968 AMC AMX was heralded before its official introduction in 1968 when Breedlove established fourteen United States Automobile Club (USAC) and Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) certified speed records for cars of any engine size, and 106 national and international speed and endurance records for cars with less than 488 cu in (8 L).[2] Two cars were prepared for the speed runs. The shattered records included a Class C AMX (standard engine with 4-speed manual transmission) 24-hour average of 140.79 mph (226.58 km/h) that was set by Craig and his wife Lee. New records in a Class B AMX (390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 with a 3-speed automatic) included a 75 miles (121 km) flying start at 174.295 mph (280.501 km/h), and 173.044 mph (278.487 km/h) for 100 miles (160 km) from a standing start.[3]


He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993.

In 2000, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and still has no signs of giving in.


August 5, 1963 Breedlove reached 407.45 mph (655.73 km/h) in the Spirit of America at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, thus making him the holder of the land speed record.
October 13, 1964 Breedlove reached 468.719 mph (754.330 km/h) in the Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville Salt Flats, reclaiming the land speed record from Art Arfons.
October 15, 1964 Just two days later, Breedlove beat his own record and breached the 500 mph barrier at 526.277 mph (846.961 km/h), still driving the Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.
November 2, 1965 Breedlove reached 555.485 mph (893.966 km/h) in the Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville Salt Flats, yet again reclaiming the land speed record from Art Arfons.
November 15, 1965 Thirteen days later, in order to compete with Arfons, Breedlove breached the 600 mph barrier at 600.842 mph (966.961 km/h) in the Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville Salt Flats.


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