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Topical Budget 758-1: Demon Super-Speeder (1926)


Main image of Topical Budget 758-1: Demon Super-Speeder (1926)
35mm, black and white, 47 feet
Production CompanyTopical Film Company

Major Segrave's 150 miles per hour in his hurricane 'Hush-Hush I' on Southport beach.

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This Topical Budget item documents an attempt on the land speed record at Southport Sands, Merseyside, by Major Henry Segrave (1896-1930). He was driving a new V12 Sunbeam Ladybird named 'Hush-Hush I' that had been constructed the previous year specifically for his record attempt.

The existing record had been set by Malcolm Campbell, who reached a speed of 150.86mph on 21 July 1925 in a Sunbeam Blue Bird. Segrave, already a winner of the French (1923) and San Sebastian (1924) Grand Prix, would spend March 1926 trying to break it. Topical's footage documents his first attempt, during which he reached 150 mph before a minor mechanical problem forced him to slow down.

But on 16 March Segrave returned to Southport for another attempt, and this time broke the record, achieving a speed of 152.33mph. Though this was beaten in turn by J.G. Parry-Thomas just over a month later, Segrave spectacularly regained his crown at Daytona Beach in the US on 27 March 1927. There, he hit 202.98mph, breaking the 200mph barrier for the first time. This was later surpassed by Campbell, though Segrave achieved his third and final land speed record on 11 March 1929, when he achieved 231.56mph and was subsequently knighted.

Sadly, as with previous record-breakers such as Captain Percy Lambert (whom Topical documented in Motor Racing at Brooklands, 90-1, 1913), this triumph was short-lived. On Friday 13 June 1930, Segrave attempted the water speed record on Lake Windermere, but his boat capsized shortly afterwards. His mechanic died instantly, while Segrave only lived long enough to be told that he had achieved the record before dying of a lung haemmorhage.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
Complete film (0:47)
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