I’m sure most of you know that Craig Breedlove passed away about a week ago at the age of 86. Mickey Thompson beat him to the 400 mph record at Bonneville, but Breedlove was the first person in history to reach 500 and 600 mph in his jet aircraft-powered Spirit of America… That’s a really big deal. Craig’s racing accomplishments made him a household name in the 1960s, and it wasn’t until Gary Gabelich and Blue Flame eventually broke his land speed record in 1970, eclipsing 622 mph, that anything changed. In fact, Breedlove was such an icon of the decade that the Beach Boys actually wrote a song about his speed record in October of 1963 (The Spirit of America was on the cover of Hot Rod the same month!) and released on their Little Deuce Coupe LP:
Spirit of America
The Bonneville salt flats had seen some strange thingsBut the strangest thing yet was a jet without wings Once as a jet it played in the stars But now on the ground it’s the king of our cars
An airplane an auto now famous worldwideThe Spirit of America, the name on the side The man who would drive her Craig Breedlove by name A daring young man played a dangerous game
With a J-47, a jet for his powerCraig Breedlove had averaged four-o-seven per hour Both man and machine had given fair warn They’d set a new record on that warm August morn.