Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pendine Sands - Land Speed Records

Whilst in Tenby, a few weeks ago, we went to visit Pendine Sands - just a little drive along the coast from where we were staying. With its long, flat beach Pendine Sands was a popular spot for land speed record breakers in the early 1900's.
Today there is a Museum of Speed at Pendine Sands where you can learn about some of the record attempts that were made there and also see some of the old motorcycles and one of the record breaking cars - Babs.
On September 25th 1924 Malcolm Campbell achieved a new land speed record in his Sunbeam 350HP - the first of many land speed record breakers to be powered by an aircraft engine. Campbell reached 146.16 miles per hour (235.22 kilometres per hour) - it was his first land speed record. The following year, Campbell beat his own record by reaching 150.87 mph (242.8 km/h).     
Then, in 1926, Wrexham born John Godfrey Parry-Thomas smashed this record by reaching 170 mph (273.6 km/h) in his car BABS.
Interestingly, BABS was originally called Chitty 4 (also known as the Higham Special as it was built on the Higham Estate by Clive Gallop for Count Louis Zborowski. The Count, who was a keen amateur racing driver died before Chitty 4 was completed and the car was then bought by J D Parry Thomas. 

The Count's cars and racing adventures later helped to inspire author Ian Fleming to write Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car (published in 1964). You might know Ian Fleming better as the creator and original author of the James Bond books... 

On February 4th, 1927, Campbell beat Parry-Thomas's record in Bluebird II - achieving 174.88 mph (281.44 km/h). Later that same year, Parry-Thomas tried to beat Campbell's record. Unfortunately, Parry-Thomas's car went out of control and the daring speed racer was killed. BABS was buried in the sand and land speed record attempts at Pendine Sands came an end.

After the crash, Babs was buried in the sand on Pendine Sands and there it remained until 1969 when the car was dug up and restored. 

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