Hall of Famer, Land Speed Record Breaker Craig Breedlove

We are saddened to hear the passing of an American Legend Craig Breedlove. 

Rarely do I get personal in these blog articles, and I am compelled to tell one of my earliest automotive memories: When living my childhood in Santa Rosa, California in the 1960's there was a bunch of commotion at a local Goodyear tire shop. The Spirit of America was parked out front and driver, Craig Breedlove was signing autographs. As a pre-teen I had no clue who that was, but the vehicle was very fascinating. Like nothing I have seen before. A brightly colored red/white/blue airplane fuselage with wheels permanently attached. There were hero cards with images of the car streaking across a landscape not of this world. Nothing like I have ever seen in the vineyard stripped rolling hills of Northern California. I had to learn more, so instead of breaking out my cell phone and look him up on Google, I had to go to the library. I found magazine articles, newspaper articles on microfiche and celluloid film (ok, I am old!) we could watch in a small room. I was hooked on all things fuel fed.

Breedlove was a Southern California Hot Rodder who at age 13 got his first car, a deuce coupe hot rod. When he was old enough to drive he had a '33 Ford and ran 154 mph at El Mirage Dry Lake Bed. At 20 years old in 1957 he ran a record of 236 mph at Bonneville in an Oldsmobile powered belly tanker. 

In 1962 when Breedlove made his first official attempt at a Land Speed Record he piloted a freewheeling tricycle powered by a GE J47 Turbojet engine. A year later, his first attempt in the Spirit of America used just 90% of available thrust to reach 388.47 mph over the measured mile. On the return pass, he turned it up for a two-way average of 407.45 mph. The car was so light on the ground it did not need to change its tires after the runs.

In 1964 there was a rivalry going on with the Arfons brothers - Walt and Art. Walt was campaigning his Wingfoot Express piloted by Tom Green and Art the more powerful Green Monster. Breedlove still managed to break his own record to 468.72 mph and then later to 526.28 mph being the first person to exceed 500 mph on land. The car lost its parachutes and after 5 miles of trying to stop and miss the telephone poles lining the track he hit a bump and landed nose first in a salt pond. When the crew finally reached him, Craig was dancing on the dyke saying: "For my next trick, I will set myself on fire!"

In 1965 he hit 555.483 mph in the Spirit of America Sonic 1 at Bonneville reclaiming the record from Art Arfons. Almost two weeks later he busted the 600 mark with 600.601 mph in the same car.

Craig Breedlove, a legend in motorsports continued campaigning AMC AMX's and Javelin's clad in Red/White/Blue for speed and endurance records. In 1968 just before the introduction of the AMX, Craig, his wife Lee, and Ron Dykes broke 14 USAC certified speed records for cars of any engine size and 106 national and international speed and endurance records for cars less than 488 cu in.

Breedlove holds 4 Hall of Fame titles at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, International Motorsports Hall of Fame, Automotive Hall of Fame and the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame.

Craig Breedlove born on March 23, 1937 died on April 4, 2023 at age 86 at his home in Rio Vista, California from cancer according to his wife Yadira Breedlove.

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