Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties

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Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties

Format:  Paperback,

360 pages

Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd

Publish Date: Sep 2010

ISBN-13: 9781554076338

ISBN-10: 1554076331

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Book Information

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The quest for the land speed record in the 1960s and the epic rivalry between two dynamic American drivers, Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove.

"Interesting and complex. . . .The best job I've seen done on the subject so far."
-- Craig Breedlove

Until the 1950s, the land speed record (LSR) was held by a series of European gentlemen racers such as British driver John Cobb, who hit 394 miles per hour in 1947. That record held for more than a decade, until the car culture swept the U.S.

Hot-rodders and drag racers built and souped up racers using car engines, piston aircraft engines and, eventually, jet engines. For this determined and dedicated group, the LSR was no longer an honor to be held by rich aristocrats with industrial backing -- it was brought stateside.

In the summer of 1960, the contest moved into overdrive, with eight men contending for the record on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Some men died in horrific crashes, others prudently retired, and by mid-decade only two men were left driving: Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove. By 1965, Arfons and Breedlove had walked away from some of the most spectacular wipeouts in motor sport history and pushed the record up to 400, then 500, then 600 miles per hour. "Speed Duel" is the fast-paced history of their rivalry.

Despite the abundant heart-stopping action, "Speed Duel" is foremost a human drama. Says author Samuel Hawley, "It is a quintessential American tale in the tradition of The Right Stuff, except that it is not about extraordinary men doing great things in a huge government program. It's about ordinary men doing extraordinary things in their back yards."

Specifications

Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd
Publish Date: Sep 2010
ISBN-13: 9781554076338
ISBN-10: 1554076331
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 360
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.75
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.0 x 9.25 x 1.25

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2010-11-15)

In the 1960's, young American hot-rodd ers, working in garages and backyards, mounted a challenge to the World Land Speed Record (LSR) long held by gentlemen British racers like Malcolm Campbell and John Cobb. Best known among them was Craig Breedlove, a movie-star-handsome young Californian with his "Spirit of America" jet-powered car. Chief challenger was Art Arfons, a drag racer from rural Ohio in his "Green Monster". Also in pursuit of the record were Walt Arfons, Art's estranged brother; Athol Graham in his homemade "City of Salt Lake"; and Nathan Ostich, a doctor who designed and drove his "Flying Caduceus" as a hobby. Hawley (The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt To Conquer China) captures the seat-of-the-pants excitement and terror of crashes at 600 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Verdict: This well-told overview of the car culture of the 1960's, with photos of the legends of the LSR, is a gripping read that will provide a jet-fueled adrenaline rush to racing fans and readers who enjoy social history in the style of Mark Kurlansky and Erik Larson.

-Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

The quest for the land speed record in the 1960s and the epic rivalry between two dynamic American drivers, Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove.

"Interesting and complex... The best job I've seen done on the subject so far".

-- Craig Breedlove

Until the 1950s, the land speed record (LSR) was held by a series of European gentlemen racers such as British driver John Cobb, who hit 394 miles per hour in 1947. That record held for more than a decade, until the car culture swept the U.S.

Hot-rodders and drag racers built and souped up racers using car engines, piston aircraft engines and, eventually, jet engines. For this determined and dedicated group, the LSR was no longer an honor to be held by rich aristocrats with industrial backing -- it was brought stateside.

In the summer of 1960, the contest moved into overdrive, with eight men contending for the record on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. Some men died in horrific crashes, others prudently retired, and by mid-decade only two men were left driving: Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove. By 1965, Arfons and Breedlove had walked away from some of the most spectacular wipeouts in motor sport history and pushed the record up to 400, then 500, then 600 miles per hour. Speed Duel is the fast-paced history of their rivalry.

Despite the abundant heart-stopping action, Speed Duel is foremost a human drama. Says author Samuel Hawley, "It is a quintessential American tale in the tradition of The Right Stuff, except that it is not about extraordinary men doing great things in a huge government program. It's about ordinary men doing extraordinary things in their back yards".

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