One of the most fervent periods of competition in LSR history was the 1920s and 1930s, when Malcolm Campbell and Henry Segrave of Britain and Ray Keech and Frank Lockhart of the US continually sought to outdo one another, initially down Daytona Beach and then on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
In late February 1928, Autocar reported on the success of Campbell – aready his fifth – in reclaiming the accolade from Segrave, who had averaged 203mph the previous March. The Balitmore-born Irishman had done so in the Mystery (more popularly known as the Slug), which had been built by Wolverhampton's Sunbeam company, using two 22.4-litre V12 aircraft engines to produce 900bhp.
The car that would usurp it was the Blue Bird III, a rebuilding of Campbell's previous record-holder, Blue Bird II. It had more aerodynamically efficient bodywork, designed in Vickers' wind tunnel and built by Mulliner, and an upgraded version of the Napier Lion W12 aircraft engine; Campbell had persuaded RAF brass hats to lend him a Schneider Trophy racing Sprint version. A slighty larger 23.9 litres, it produced 875bhp.
"Campbell's weird-looking monster arrives on the scene," Autocar described, "and simultaneously the whole of his rival Lockhart's team show up on the sand armed with stopwatches to see the beginning of the fray.
"The day was anything but ideal for the first serious attack on the coveted record. There was a wind, estimated by some people at 30mph, blowing against the car's quarter down the course, and the past week of bad weather had made the sand uneven and in places very bumpy.
"After the inevitable preliminary delays while various people panic as to whether the electrical [timing] apparatus is really going to function properly, Campbell's car sets off in good earnest and turns some four miles from the beginning of the course.
"Then it shoots forward, gathers speed, and appears from the distance like a projectile accompanied by the roar of some incensed diabolic monster, goes past the strip with a crash of sound, and flies into the distance at what is obviously a terrific speed.
"There is an interval while the electrical record is checked, then once more the immense volume of fierce sound rises to full strength, and the machine rushes by travelling none too steadily, it seems, right away down the course.
"Another interval, and the speed of the car down the wind is found to be 214.797mph, and against the wind 199.667mph. Campbell has travelled faster than any man has ever done before on land, at the official average of 206.956mph for one mile.