As soon as the first cars appeared on European and American roads, humanity began to dream of speed.

Even at the dawn of the automotive era, along with conventional production cars, designers created racing models. As for the world records, each new result is still recorded in the list, which was discovered in the century before last.

Photo # 1 - World speed records: from steam engines to rocket engines on salt lakes

The first officially registered record was set by a French count named Gaston de Chasslu-Loba - at the end of 1898 he accelerated in his car (by the way, with electric traction) to more than 63 kilometers per hour. A couple of months later, the Belgian racer Camille Zhenatzi on the electric car, known to the story with the nickname "Always dissatisfied", improved the result of the Frenchman by three kilometers per hour. After that, the Belgian and French turned into bitter rivals and constantly beat each other's records. Camille became the winner in the bout: in April 1899, he crossed the 100-kilometer mark for the first time, showing a result of 105.8 km / h.

Zhenatzi literally lived in racing. A few years after his last record, he had an accident and lost an arm, but even that did not stop him from competing and winning. Camille joked that he would die in a car, and certainly in a Mercedes, and his prediction ironically came true: once he was accidentally hit with a bullet while hunting, and a car. In which the wounded man was taken to the hospital and in which he died on the way to the hospital, it was precisely a Mercedes.

The notorious American industrialist Henry Ford also took part in the races, though only for advertising purposes. In 1904, he accelerated one of his cars to 147 kilometers per hour, and this was the first attempt to set a world record outside of France or Belgium. In Europe, the result was not accepted, citing the fact that the race was not held according to the club rules. In America, on the other hand, they were proud of the achievement. However, Henry Ford himself was no longer engaged in racing.

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The two-hundred-kilometer speed limit was overcome in 1911 by a racer named Burman. He had a 200 hp Benz car. with., received the nickname "Lightning", or simply "Lightning". The record was 228 km / h. True, the rider covered the distance in only one direction, and therefore the result was not immediately recognized officially.

Even before the outbreak of World War II, Burman's record was almost doubled by the Englishman Malcolm Campbell. In 1932, in a racing car called the Bluebird, Campbell reached a speed of over 400 km / h and subsequently broke his own record several times.

In 1937, pilot John Aiston in his Rolls-Royce-Eiston accelerated to 500 km / h. His car looked very unusual and outwardly resembled rather an aircraft, moreover, it had only three wheels.

Since the mid-1960s, cars with aircraft and rocket engines began to participate in races, so the 1000 km / h milestone in 1970 was conquered by the American Harry Gabelich, whose car called "Blue Flame" showed an average speed of 1014 km / h. However, he was subsequently beaten several times, although not a single car has yet crossed the 1,000-mile mark (approximately 1,600 km / h).

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Of course, the usual road will not work for setting fantastic speed records. Most often, such races are held on dry salt lakes. The most famous of them is called Bonneville and is located in America, in the state of Utah. Imagine a huge, 412 square kilometers, area so flat that you can see the curvature of the globe. At the same time, most of the year the surface of the lake is hard, dry and even, there is no sand or mud. It is not surprising that back in the 1920s and 1930s, lovers of adrenaline and extreme speeds from all over the world began to come here.

At first, races on the lake were conducted illegally, without any licenses. The state government did not protest, because such events brought a good income to residents of small towns located near the salt desert. However, after several tragic incidents, the process of organizing the races became strict, and these rules remain in effect to this day.

Racers are not competing with each other here; they enter the track one at a time, and their main rival is the speedometer needle. At the same time, everyone chooses the class of cars or motorcycles on which the check-in is made, even the judge cannot object. The main thing is compliance with technical safety requirements, the list of which includes almost 60 items. The brightest events in Bonneville take place in summer and autumn. For example, the traditional "Speed ​​Week" - usually held in August.

The mysterious Bonneville Salt Lake, which itself is a striking natural and tourist attraction, has repeatedly appeared on the silver screen. Perhaps the atmosphere that reigns there during the race days is most vividly conveyed in the feature film The Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins. The plot is based on the real story of Bert Monroe from New Zealand, who for many years, with his own hands in a tiny shed, improved an old motorcycle "Indian Scout" of 1920. The racer's dream came true: in Bonneville, he set a world speed record. By that time, Monroe was 68 years old, and his motorcycle was a little less than half a century.

Of course, the question arises: how to fix records today? The first Bonneville enthusiasts used mechanical chronographs, then a computerized system appeared, and now measurements are made using infrared emitters. And this method has established itself as the most accurate.

Things to know (Q&A)

What is the fastest motorcycle land speed record in the world?

The first official Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) record was set in 1920, when Gene Walker rode an Indian on Daytona Beach at 104.12 mph (167.56 km/h). Since late 2010, the Ack Attack team has held the motorcycle land speed record at 376.36 mph (605.69 km/h).

Who is the fastest man on two wheels?

Brian Hamilton. Rocky Robinson has finally run down his dream – again. Two years after first shattering the world motorcycle speed record – a mark he held for just two days – he once again owns the title of world's fastest man on two wheels .

What is the world's fastest Harley?

Twenty years later, drag racer Dave Campos smashed the motorcycle land speed record with a specially built 7-metre-long bike called the Easyriders Streamliner. This wild machine was powered by two 1500cc Harley -Davidson engines and reached an eye-watering 519.609 km/h (322.870 mph). This record stood for 16 years.