Sponsored Video: Speed Demon Breedlove And The Spirit Of America

Posted on 06 June 2014 by Tony Santos

What do you do when a normal petrol engine inside your car is just too mainstream or too boring for you? How about swap in a jet engine just for kicks? Is that too crazy for you?

Well for a young Craig Breedlove, it is not. In 1963, Breedlove, inspired by John F. Kennedy, had a great dream: be a land speed record holder, and in the process, bring back the said title to the US. To accomplish such feat, however, required some huge leaps of engineering for the then 21 year old.

To start, Breedlove visited their neighbourhood war surplus area in California and looked for some salvageable J47 jet engines from the Korean War, thinking that it will be an easy way to make a car go fast. Yup, you read that right.

He and his father then remodelled their 2-car garage to accommodate the design and development of what would be the first of many iterations of the Spirit of America, Breedlove’s jet engine-packing, 3 wheeler hot rod.

After months of trial and error, the innovative young man unveiled the Spirit of America to the masses, proclaiming his ambition of making it the fastest land vehicle on the planet. With throngs of supporters with him, he proceeded to the Bonneville Salt Flats on August 5, 1963 to take and get his first shot at the title, with an average speed of 407.45mph. That made him the first person in history to drive past the 400mph mark.

Not to be outdone, however, rivals Tom Green (driving the Wingfoot Express) and Art Arfons (driving the Green Monster), both speed demons and Americans as well, challenged Breedlove with runs of 413.2mph and 434.03mph respectively. Answering back, however, Breedlove then drove his Spirit of America – Sonic 1 (next iteration of his beloved hot rod) in Bonneville to the tune of 555.49mph in a run in November 2, 1965 and 600.601mph in November 15, 1965. Both runs cemented his place in history as the first person to ever reach 400mph, 500mph and 600mph.

Those runs will eventually be upped by faster rocket and turbofan engines of more recent vehicles, but it is without a doubt that Craig Breedlove has ushered in the era of superfast cars, even before the Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis of today.

Want to know more about Craig Breedlove? Watch this sponsored video for a quick look into the man’s high speed life in the 60s.

This post is sponsored by Pennzoil.

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