all the names connected with motor racing since the beginning, that of Malcolm Campbell stands out as
representing the triumph gained by perseverance. Although having longer motor racing experience than any other Englishman now taking part in the sport, his career has not been one of unbroken good fortune. On the contrary, the record of his steady climb to fame as our foremost all-round driver, has been a story of continual difficulties and repeated misfortune. The fact that in spite of every setback his skill and perseverance have established an unrivalled reputation, makes this achievement even more remarkable. His crowning success, the breaking of the land speed record at Daytona by the very handsome margin of 15 m.p.h. and the raising of this record to the amazing speed of 246 m.p.h. is a fitting end to his endeavours for many years.
A Long Career.
Twenty-five years ago Campbell started racing, being at the same time interested in aviation, on which he did a lot of work in the very early days. Then came the war, and it is only natural that he continued his flying in the R.F.C., and the experience of engines in those days gave him valuable knowledge. After the war he returned to motor racing and in 1920 handled Talbots, as well as Schneider and Peugeot. These were the days of hill climbs and sprint events and he was a prominent figure at these functions. In 1921 and 1922 he broke various hillclimb records but then his ideas turned to larger game, and when K. Lee Guinness, on the 12-cylinder Sunbeam had reached 129 m.p.h., Campbell bought the car and proceeded to raise the record to some 136 m.p.h.
His next attempt on the land speed record was at the meeting in Denmark at the Fanoe Islands, but owing to the electrical tuning apparatus not being passed officially the speeds achieved could not be claimed, and it was not until 1924 that he reached new figures. Still driving the Sunbeam, this time at Pendine, he raised the mean speed to 146.16 m.p.h.
for the kilometre, but did not gain the mile record until 1925 when he exceeded 150 m.p.h. for the first time.
It was evident that the limit of the old Sunbeam had been reached, so in 1927, he started to build the first ” Bluebird ” with a Napier engine, which was the basis from which the present record breaker was evolved. In this car 174.2 m.p.h. was reached at Pendine. He was still working against disappointments, however, and his record fell to the big Sunbeam in the hands of the late Sir Henry Segrave. Spurred on rather than discouraged, he reconstructed Bluebird, and raised Segrave’s speed of 203.79 m.p.h. to 206.956 m.p.h. only to have his record again beaten by Ray Keech by half a mile an hour.
Once more he set about the reconstruction of his car and went to Verneuk Pan, in South Africa, where he was not only faced with terrible difficulties due to the country and climate, but further knew that Segrave, with the Golden Arrow was at Daytona. Before he could get conditions suitable for his attack on the record he was to learn that the Golden Arrow had put up the astounding speed of 231.36 m.p.h.
The Verneuk Victory.
Such a series of discouragements would have daunted most men, but Campbell was determined not to leave Africa without some records, and he performed the remarkable feat of averaging 211 m.p.h. for 5 miles, and 216 m.p.h. for 5 kilometres, records which are likely to remain unbroken for a very long time to come. Still determined to gain the coveted record for the highest speed on land, he started the greatest reconstruction in “
Bluebird’s” career. This was carried out by Thompson and Taylor of Brooklands and the design was carried out by Mr. Railton. Campbell’s troubles were not over when he left for America, as there were still financial arguments in connection with the Daytonaa uthorities. However, these were eventually smoothed over, and at last the car was ready for her trial runs.
The actual breaking of the record was carried out just as it should have been. There was no undue waiting about, no violent last minute alterations. Everyone connected with the design, building, and equipment of the car had carried out their work with such accuracy and thoroughness that after the trial runs Campbell went out for his actual attempt.
Those few seconds during which the shapely blue car flashed down the sands of Daytona at a speed never before reached on land, may have seemed all too short to the watching thousands. To the driver they were the crowning effort of a career of dogged persistence in the face of difficulties, a fitting reward to the many who had helped directly and indirectly in the attempt, and a fine vindication of the efficiency and enterprise of British engineering.
Accessories Before the Fact. The following contributed to Campbell’s great achievement :—
1,450 h.p. Napier supercharged racing aero engine ; car designed by Mr. R. A. Railton, of Thomson and Taylor, Ltd., Brooklands ; car erected by Thomson and Taylor, Ltd. ; chassis frame by Vickers ; Hoffman ball bearings ; petrol tank by the Gallay Radiator Co. ; Ferodo lined clutch ; gearbox built by K.L.G. Sparking Plugs, Ltd. ; Marks steering gear ; Woodhead road springs ; Alford and Alder brakes with Clayton-Dewandre vacuum servo ; Serck honeycomb radiator; Silentbloc bushes by T. B. Andre and Co., Ltd. ; Claudel-Hobson carburetters by H. M. Hobson, Ltd. ; Watford magnetos by North and Sons, Ltd. ; bodywork by J. Gurney Nutting and Co., Ltd., London.
K.L.G. plugs ; Moseley Float-on-Air pneumatic upholstery ; Triplex glass screen ; Castrol oil by C. C. Wakefield and Co., Ltd. ; tyres and wheels by the Dunlop Rubber Co., Ltd. ; instruments by S. Smith and Sons (M.A.), Ltd. ; Andre shock absorbers ; Pratt’s ethyl petrol ; retroflex petrol tubing ; Ace wheel discs.