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Henry Segrave

Portrait of Sir Henry Segrave (ca. 1929), courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.


Henry O’Neal de hane Segrave (22 September 189613 June 1930) was famous for setting three land speed records and the water speed record. He was the first person to hold both the land and water speed records simultaneously. He was the first person to travel at over 200 mph (320 km/h). The Segrave Trophy was established in 1930 to commemorate his life.

World War I

A British national, Seagrave was born in Baltimore, Maryland of an American mother and an Irish father. He was raised in Ireland and attended Eton College in England. He served in the British Royal Air Force in World War I. He was shot twice, but lived, in separate incidents in 1915 and 1916. He was a fighter pilot. Major Segrave bragged that he would drive a car at over 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). People thought that the war had made him mad.

Grand Prix motor racing career

He was the first Briton to win a Grand Prix in a British car. He won the 1923 French Grand Prix and the 1924 San Sebastian Grand Prix at Circuito Lasarte (Spain) in a Sunbeam. After a further win at Miramas in France, he retired from racing to concentrate on speed records.

Land speed record

People gathered around the Sunbeam in 1927, courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.

On 21 March 1926, he set his first land speed record in his 4 litre Sunbeam Ladybird at the Southport sands at Lancashire, United Kingdom at 174.22 mph (280.38 km/h).

He regained the land speed record in 29 March 1927 in his Mystery Sunbeam 1000 hp at the Daytona Beach Road Course at 203.79 mph (327.97 km/h), when he became the first person to travel over 200 mph (320 km/h).

Sir Henry Segrave sitting in his Golden Arrow in 1929, courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection.

Segrave set his final land speed record at 231.36 mph (372.34 km/h) in his new car, the Irving-Napier Golden Arrow, at Daytona Beach on 11 March 1929. This car had 18.74 miles (30.16 km) on it when it set the record, which is the least used car to set the record. The car has never been used since. He began concentrating on the water speed record after being the first person on the scene of the Lee Bible death.

Water speed record leads to his death

After his 1929 land speed record, he immediately went to Miami to race Garfield Wood. Wood's suffered his first defeat in nine years. After he returned to Great Britain, he was knighted for his accomplishments.

On Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave unknowingly captured the water speed record in Miss England II on Lake Windermere. In a later attempt the boat presumably hit a log and capsized, killing his mechanic Victor Halliwell. Segrave was recovered, and taken to a hospital. He regained consciousness for a moment, and was informed that he had indeed broken the record. He died a few moments later of lung hemorrages.

Kaye Don would later break two more world water speed records in Miss England II.

His book

The Lure of Speed (1928)

External links