The way we were: August 1963

Published: 06:30AM Jul 15th, 2013
By: Richard Rosenthal
Craig Breedlove became the fastest man on wheels at the Bonneville Salt Flats with his jet propelled three-wheeler, but initially the authorities wouldn’t recognise the vehicle rather than the record...
The way we were: August 1963

His mean speed of 408.3mph for the flying kilometre beat John Cobb’s car land speed record of 394.2mph and Bill Johnson’s 224.5mph set on a motorcycle... but as it wasn’t a four-wheeler the car world didn’t want to know and it gave the FIM a headache as its solo and sidecar records are for vehicles with one driving wheel, in fact Breedlove’s Spirit of America had no drive through any wheels. It was powered by a General Electric J47 turbojet from an F-86 Sabre jet fighter!

The FIM created a special category – Group D – for jet powered three-wheelers then dithered over Breedlove’s 1963 figures. But Breedlove solved the problem 15 months later posting 848.651kph (530.407mph) at Bonneville, again with Spirit of America, on October 13, 1964. It’s a record which remains in the FIM world record lists to this day. 

On August 1, at the 7.4 mile Dundrod circuit near Belfast, Mike Hailwood (500/4 MV Agusta) raised the lap record for the Ulster Grand Prix to over 101mph.

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