Record-setting racer Craig Breedlove dead at 86

 April 6, 2023

Craig Breedlove, a racer who set land speed records at over 600 miles per hour, died at the age of 86.

Breedlove, known for racing in jet-powered cars in the desert flats, set several records during his early years.

His records

"Breedlove set records at more than 400, 500, and 600 mph in jet-powered cars running surplus fighter jet engines. For a three-year period from 1962 to 1965, Breedlove battled two other great land speed racers for glory on the Bonneville Salt Flats—Art Arfons and his brother Walt. Between the three of them the records were made, broken and set again," Autoweek wrote.

"While subsequent projects by other racers raised the land speed record to over 700 mph, and broke the speed of sound doing so, there may never be another time so freewheeling and downright amazing as those years in the early ‘60s on the Bonneville Salt Flats," it added.

His cars

"Breedlove's turbojet-powered racer, dubbed Spirit of America, was a three-wheeled speed devil. He set three records from inside the first iteration, which used a mighty General Electric J47 turbojet engine," Car and Driver reported.

"The car was built with a $250,000 budget and continued to push the boundaries of speed up as high as 526 mph in 1965, before a violent crash led to its replacement by the Spirit of America Sonic 1. The Sonic 1 would set Breedlove's highest top speed of his lifetime at 600 mph in 1965, a land speed record that would be held for five years," it added.

Known as America's King of Speed, Breedlove set many records during his racing year.

His top speed would clock in at 606 miles per hour, a record that stood for five years.

Speed Sport reported that Breedlove bought his first car at the age of 13 and "drove a 1934 Ford to a speed of 154 mph on the dry lakes of the Mojave Desert when he was 16."

Breedlove's many records during the 1960s were inspired in part by President John Kennedy's "Ask What You Can Do For Your Country" speech, according to the report.

The racer's records took speeds to new levels, leaving behind a racing legacy forever etched in history.

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