Sunday History Photo / SA

Submitted: Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 06:38
ThreadID: 130753 Views:2558 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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last year on July 17th Speed ace Donald Campbell’s Bluebird land-speed record at Lake Eyre turned 50
On that date was his second attempt (1963 was a wet year), Donald Campbell set the land speed record on the dry salt pan of lake Eyre in his famous Bluebird car. For the attempt Campbell and his entourage of nearly 500 people – engineers, technicians, police and army personnel, reporters and others – had their headquarters at Muloorina Station.

The land-speed record was in the bag, Donald Campbell was returned as the fastest man on the planet, Bluebird was the quickest car and South Australia’s Lake Eyre salt pans in the state’s Far North were forever etched as the vital ingredient that helped make it happen.
Fifty years ago , at precisely 8.10am, Englishman Campbell became the first man to break the 400 mile per hour limit in a wheel-driven vehicle.
On July 17, 1964, with back-to-back passes in opposite directions near Muloorina Station, Campbell registered an average speed of 403.1mph (648.7km/h).
At the time — even though a year earlier American Craig Breedlove in his three-wheeled, jet-engine powered Spirit of America had registered a faster 407.4mph — official records recognised only wheel-driven vehicles.

It took almost 7km to work up to full speed. At the average speed of 403.1mph, it took just 8.9 seconds to chew up the “measure mile”. From there, Campbell had 11km to stop Bluebird for his maintenance crew to prepare for the reverse run.
Under strict rules, he had an hour to complete the return leg.
By 8.10am, posting the same average time as his first run, Campbell had overtaken fellow Englishman John Cobb’s previous record of 394.2mph (634.4km/h).
Barely five weeks earlier, Beatle-mania had hit Adelaide when 300,000 fans of the British supergroup spilt into the city streets to catch a glimpse of the Fab Four.
Campbell’s crowd didn’t quite topple Beatle-mania, but an estimated 200,000 people gathered in celebration to see him drive his sleek, four-tonne vehicle along King William St, Adelaide, to the Town Hall on July 25, 1964.
Reports from the time suggest Campbell revved the engine to a huge roar, sending the crowd wild.

Campbell’s record, unlike its legacy, was only fleeting. By December 11, less than five months after his Lake Eyre success, previously opposing regulatory federations agreed to open the record to any vehicle running on wheels.
Campbell was already committed to becoming the first man to break both the land-speed and water speed records in the same year.
He achieved the double on December 31, when he clocked 276.3mph (444.7km/h) at Lake Dumbleyung , WA in his Bluebird K7 boat.
Soon after, Campbell mapped out a three-year plan to build and race a rocket-powered vehicle capable of 840mph (1350km/h) — named Bluebird Mach 1.1.
In a bid to publicise the record bid, he took one more shot at raising the water speed record, targeting 300mph (482km/h).
His dream of piloting the Bluebird Mach 1.1 would never materialise. On January 4, 1967, on his return run at England’s Lake Consiton, Campbell’s Bluebird K7 boat flipped at an estimated 528km/h, instantly killing the speed ace.

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Reply By: muzbry - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 07:56

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 07:56
Gday Doug
I saw the bluebird at the Sydney motor show in 1963 .
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:06

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:06
Hi Doug

Another great Sunday Photo history read. As a young primary school child in Clare, the school saw first hand the Bluebird as it stopped in Clare on its way South to Adelaide after the success of his world record land speed success and as young as I was, still remember being privileged to see that mighty vehicle first hand.

Cheers and keep up your great work.

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 10:22

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 10:22
Hi Stephen
You also made mention about this in my SHP about the Bluebird water speed record attempt on Lake Bonney at Barmera ThreadID: 57252

AnswerID: 302023 Submitted: Sunday, May 04, 2008 at 20:17
Member - Stephen L (SA) replied:
Hi Doug
I can remember when his land speed bluebird came through Clare after in land speed record of the same year. I was only in grade 3 and can remember the whole school going down to see his vehicle.


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Reply By: Mark R - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:36

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:36
Hi Doug,

Great memories. At the time of the record my parents owned an Ampol servo and I think that Ampol ran some promotion in relation to the Bluebird record attempt. I know there was great interest and as a kid I was very excited by it all.

Last year, my wife and I were visiting the UK and dropped in to the Beaulieu Motor Museum in the south of England. While we were wandering through the exhibition, we rounded a corner to be confronted by Bluebird!! The real thing, The original. I had no idea she was there and it was a wonderful surprise and brought back many memories of the time of the record.
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Reply By: Member - Charlie M (SA) - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:57

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 09:57
Hi Doug

Great reading as always.
As a young school child, I saw the Bluebird in Adelaide.
I was at Two Wells primary school at the time, It was a school trip to Adelaide from memory to see it.
Two Wells is about 24 mile from Adelaide.

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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 11:21

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 11:21
I remember all the excitement as a young man. I subsequently married my English wife who was a closish relative of John Cobb whose record Cambell beat.
John Cobb used to race against Cambell's father And like young Donald died whilst attempting a water speed record in Scotland.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 14:36

Sunday, Nov 01, 2015 at 14:36
As always, a good read Doug.

By coincidence, I drove past the Muloorina turnoff on Friday morning. Went there in 2011, so wasn't planning a visit this time.

Has me wondering how they got Bluebird down on the Lake, because the dunes right at Level Post Bay are quite tall. Maybe there was a gap somewhere handy that allowed acces onto the lake surface?


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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Nov 02, 2015 at 01:16

Monday, Nov 02, 2015 at 01:16
Thanks Doug. Coincidentally on the first birthday of my Facebook page today I was revisiting some of my items, and one was about the 50th anniversary celebrations late last year. I wrote -

"Bluebird was still and quiet on New Year’s Day 1965, basking in the glory of the achievement in breaking the world water speed record for Donald Campbell the day before. These were exciting times for the rural community of Dumbleyung, and our friends were farming not far from Lake Dumbleyung. We often visited them for New Year’s Day and a short drive to the lake, often to water ski and swim, was part of the day’s activities. This time we weren’t boating, but looking at the Bluebird. My sister took a photo of me leaning against the speedcraft."

I remember Bluebird the watercraft well.


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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Nov 02, 2015 at 07:14

Monday, Nov 02, 2015 at 07:14
Yes time goes by quickly, I seen the Bluebird boat at Barmera , no success there so he took it to WA.

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