Monday, January 2, 2023

RETRO: Time Capsule of an Early Land Speed Record Holder

As move over Tom Sneva! This Gasman was way Ahead of You!


Although I’m guessing I’ve heard the name before, cannot say I’ve ever been curious about Sir Henry Segrave. For which the Segrave trophy is named in Honour of this Speed records pioneer.


Interestingly, Henry was born in Baltimore, Maryland in September, 1896 to an American Mother and Irish Father. And attended schooling in Ireland before attending College in England.


Enjoy the brief respite of His travails of Military service during World War I. Having been rushed thru Officer Training School. Henry was apparently known as the “Lion’s Cub” for His determined Trench fighting. Having thrown an Ammunition Belt at a German Soldier after His gun had become clogged in Mud, causing the enemy’s shot High and Hitting Him in the shoulder!


Recovering from this, Sir Henry next joined the RoyalFlying corps in 1915 and became a Fighter Pilot in 1916. Even shooting down a German two seater Aviatik on May 1st.


Segrave was later Hit by Anti-Aircraft artillery and crashed Heavily that July! And severely breaking His Ankle effectively ended His flying career.




But the funniest part is Henry bemoaning His being a terrible pilot and how the landings were the worst, which He was constantly “Mucking” Up! With Henry taking up Administrative roles until resigning His Royal Air force Commision in 1919.


Next Henry took up the emerging Boom of Motorsports, making His way onto Britain’s Sunbeam Works team. Racing in the 1922 French Grand Prix, where He was forced to retire.


Segrave triumphantly won the 1923 French Grand Prix in a Sunbeam! Along with winning the 1924 San Sebastian Grand Prix before retiring from the Sport in order to focus upon the exhilarating pursuit of Speed records.


As I believe these triumphs were set aboard a Grand Prix Sunbeam 1921 racecar? For which the name Sunbeam always makes me think of it’s latter years, when it was part of the Roots Group before Chrysler purchased it.


When some ‘Ol Codger’ named Carroll Shelby was commissioned to see if He could get a Ford “Hi-Po” 289cid Small block v-8 Shoehorned into what became known eventually as the Sunbeam tiger!


Having just learned that these 1964-67 Sunbeam tigers were so named in Honour of Henry Segrave’s record setting Tiger! With the Series I Tiger usiing a production Ford 260cid Small Block V-8. And the much rarer Mark II Tigers having standard 289cid V-8 lumps’ as Thar motivation.


Segrave set a total of three land Speed records, His first coming on March 16, 1926. Utilizing a 4-litre Sunbeam tiger named Ladybird, He set a record of 152.33mph at Ainsdale Beach on southport, England. With the record standing for just a month before another prominent land Speed record Chaser, J.G. Parry-Thomas broke it.


Then just over one year later, on March 29, 1927, Henry became the first person to record a speed over 200mph! Using a custom 1,000 Horsepower Sunbeam known affectionately as “the Slug.” (Or Mystery) Recorded a speed of 203.79mph on Daytona Beach’s Road Course.


As Daytona Beach’s sandy Beach Road course was the site of multiple land Speed records during the 1900, way before someplace “big bill” (France) had built inland in 1953. Perhaps Y’all have Heard of it? Someplace called Daytona International Speedway…


As the first recorded land Speed record set at Daytona Beach was in 1906 with Steam power! With Fred Marriott aboard His Stanley Rocket claiming a speed of 127.66mph.


 With the Beach being the “Place” for land Speed records exclusively between 1927-1935 before Bonneville Salt flats took over the LSR scene. While NASCAR’s final race on the Beach was held in 1958.


Seagrave’s third and final land Speed record was set aboard His Golden Aero, which He used to up the record to 231.45mph, also at Daytona Beach Road course on March 11, 1929.


As Segrave Quit pursuit of any further land Speed records following witnessing the High Speed Death of Lee bible at Ornond Beach,  Florida two days later.


Henry turned His attenzione next to water Speed records, having had the Miss England I built in 1928 to recapture the Harmsworth trophy from the legendous’ Gar Wood and His Miss America’s.


As the boat used a single Napier Lion “Aero” (Aircraft) engine for propulsion. As Segrave believed the speed could be found in the Hull’s advanced Planing design instead of just raw, outright Horsepower.


As I love the fact that Woods “Sportingly” offered Segrave assistance in propeller and rudder design. And then Henry traveled to Miami and Defeated Wood for the first time in nine years at their Speedboat races!


Upon His return to Jolly ‘Ol England, Henry Segrave was Knighted for His Speed record achievements. Yet shortly after, on July 13, 1930, Segrave’s luck finally ran out!


Upon setting a new water Speed record on Windermere of 98.76mph in two recorded runs. Miss England II capsized on Her third run, instantly Killing it’s Chief Engineer. Whilst it’s Mechanic survived with just a broken Arm. Segrave would Die from massive lung Hemorrhaging at the Age of 33yrs Old that Fateful day…


As Sir Henry Segrave was the first person to simultaneously Hold the land and water Speed records, along with the first to go 200mph on land.