I HAVE always considered 100 m.p.h. to be fast, though just how fast depends on the vehicle you are in or on, and 200 m.p.h. is doubly fast. I have been driven at 175 m.p.h. and that seemed very fast, and I have driven myself at 150 m.p.h., which was more than fast enough for my eyesight and skill. I have watched 7-litre Fords and 917 Porsches doing over 200 m.p.h. at Le Mans, and was impressed, though I did not see the 240 m.p.h. that some Porsche drivers “thought” they were doing. I saw Art Arfons, in his Green Monster jet-car, going faster on land than anything I have ever seen, but all these were academic, imaginary or calculated speeds. I saw American Dragsters at that memorable Woodvale meeting in Lancashire, doing a timed 201 m.p.h., but it was “instant speed’ through the traps at the end of a standing-start quarter-mile. Hagon was timed at 206 m.p.h. on his supercharged Hagon-JAP motorcycle over an eighth of mile, which like a Dragster was “instant speed” : 200 m.p.h. for any reasonable measured length has always been confined to record-breakers, such as the Germans with Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union in the 1930s, Daytona Beach record-breakers and Bonneville record-breakers.
A new standard has been set in Alabama, USA, for Buddy Baker has been officially timed, by certified electronic equipment, to lap the Talladega Superspeedway at more than 200 m.p.h. He was driving a 1970 Dodge Daytona NASCAR racing saloon and he did three laps at 200.096 m.p.h., 200.330 m.p.h., and 200.447 m.p.h., and was reaching 220 m.p.h. down the straights of the 2.66-mile speedway running on Goodyear tyres. At the recent Daytona Speed Week the fastest qualifying lap was 194 m.p.h., but this recent NASCAR driver’s effort has started a new era.—D. S. J.