October 15: Craig Breedlove hits 526 mph before crashing on this date in 1964

Justin Hyde

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Last year's successful leap by Felix Baumgartner recalled an earlier age when daredevils were still looking for feats of speed on land, led by a California firefighter who believed the best way to go fast was to strap yourself to a jet engine. Before Craig Breedlove starting running across the Bonneville Salt Flats, the world land speed record had been held by piston-engined vehicles; under a loophole for motorcycles, Breedlove's team designed a jet-powered three wheeler. The Spirit of America hit 526 mph on this date in 1964, becoming the fastest land vehicle ever — and when its parachute malfunctioned and the Spirit landed in a salt pond, it also set the Guinness world record for longest skidmarks. Breedlove would spend the next few decades chasing the record with ever-faster jet vehicles, eventually being surpassed by the same team now building the supersonic Bloodhound SSC. But no man has ever been more deserving of his own Beach Boys song:

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