copyright (c) 1996, Electric Nevada
|Gerlach, Nev.-- Craig Breedlove was not about to let a brush with death kill his rekindled hunger for the world land speed record.|
is what I do," he said.
The next attempt, he said, will come next year at the age of 60, whether it's in Australia in the spring or back here at the Black Rock Desert in late summer.
Breedlove seemed more concerned about the car than his own well- being Monday after "Spirit of America" caught a jolt of wind, took a sudden right-hand turn at a record speed of 675 miles per hour, tipped on its side and careened a mile-and- a-half off course toward the edge of the dry lake bed.
Breedlove waited frightening seconds until the car righted itself, then ejected the parachutes and pulled to a safe stop some two miles from the rocky, hilly desert terrain.
Breedlove, 59, was attempting to set the world land speed record for the sixth time, and for the first time in 31 years. He had just entered the timing zone when his hopes were swept away by winds estimated at between 15 and 18 mph.
Moments after inspecting his "Spirit of America" on rubbery legs, Breedlove acknowledged his fear. Asked if he was scared, he grinned and cocked his head and said, "You could say that."
"It was a scary situation. I had options when the car was on its side -- whether to use the chutes or wait, whether to brake.
"It was a good run on power. The wind caught it and it just got away from me. I'm fine, but I'm very disappointed and depressed."
Breedlove said he knows now he has enough power to go supersonic, his ultimate goal. To break through the sound barrier at the 4,000 feet elevation at the Black Rock, he would have to run about 765 mph.
As for now, he plans to start working on his car in his garage at Rio Vista, Calif. Early indications were that the major damage was to the rear axle. The scarred body was in clear evidence.
"It's going to be a busy winter for us," he said.
Breedlove was the first to eclipse 400, 500 and 600 miles. He was on target to easily break the record speed of 633.468 set by Richard Noble of Great Britain in the Black Rock in 1983.
If his official clocking had been 675 mph, he would have needed only 605 mph clocking on the second of two required runs to average the required 640 mph, or 1 percent faster than the established mark.
Meanwhile, Noble was on his way to Al Jafr Desert in Jordan to test his Thrust SSC with driver Andy Green.
Breedlove was unable to motivate Noble to break new ground but, clearly, the land speed battle is on center stage again for the first time since the mid-1960s when
Breedlove and Art Arfons were trading the
record back and forth at the Bonneville Salt Flats in
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