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Spotlight On: Sir Henry Segrave

Sir Henry Segrave

Henry Segrave was an American-born British automobile and motorboat racer who set four world speed records.

Segrave served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) during the First World War. Following the war’s conclusion Segrave became a motor car racer, winning Britain’s first long distance car race at Brooklands race track in 1921 as well as the French Grand Prix (1923) and the San Sebastian Grand Prix (1924) in Spain.

On March 16, 1926 Segrave broke his first land speed record at Ainsdale beach, Southport driving his Sunbeam Tiger ‘Ladybird’ at 152.33 miles per hour. The following year he became the first person to travel over 200 miles per hour, regaining the land speed record that had been broken just a month after his achievements on Ainsdale beach.

The final land speed record set by Segrave came on March 11, 1929 at Daytona Beach Road Course in Florida, USA. Racing in his ‘Golden Arrow’ Segrave clocked 231.45 miles per hour. This was the final land record ever attempted by Segrave after he witnessed the death of fellow racing car driver Lee Bible, who was trying to break the land speed record Segrave had set just two days earlier.

Segrave had begun racing motor boats in 1927 and it was in 1930, only a few months after receiving his knighthood, that he set the water speed record on Windermere Lake. On the third run the boat capsized killing chief engineer Victor Halliwell, Segrave was rescued from the wreckage but died shortly afterwards.

The Segrave Trophy was established in his memory and is awarded for “Outstanding Skill, Courage and Initiative on Land, Water and in the Air: the Spirit of Adventure”.

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