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Malcolm Campbell

Auto Racer

Born: 11 March 1885
Died: 31 December 1948
Birthplace: Chislehurst, Kent, England
Best known as:

The driver of the land-speed record setting Bluebird

Sir Malcolm Campbell was an English auto racer who set land and water speed records between 1924 and 1935. He won his first race in 1912 -- the story goes that he saw the play L'Oiseau blue (The Bluebird) by Belgian dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck, and was so inspired he went home and painted his car blue, then won for the first time the next day. A pilot with the fledgling Royal Flying Corps in World War I, he returned to racing after the war and in 1924 set his first speed record with 146.16 miles per hour. Altogether he set land-speed records nine times, and on 3 September 1935 was the first to be officially clocked exceeding 300 mph, with his record of 301.1292 mph. He captured the world's water-speed record in 1937 with 129.5 mph, broke it the next year with 130.93 mph, and then again in 1939 with 141.74 mph, a record he still held when he died of natural causes in 1948. He was knighted in 1931.

Extra credit:

Sir Malcolm Campbell's son, Donald Malcolm Campbell, also set land and water speed records, and his grandson, Don Wales, is also a land-speed racer, known especially for steam-powered vehicles.

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