Blast from the Past
Most land-speed racing historians can tell you how organised drag racing evolved out of dry lakes racing, when two or more cars would venture out side-by-side, rather than in turn, as land-speed racers run today.
In the aftermath of the hotly contested battles for the ultimate land-speed record, Gary Gabelich proposed a return to the side-by-side land-speed race format in an exhibition match with Craig Breedlove on the Bonneville Salt Flats. At the time, Gabelich still held the world land-speed record at 622.407 MPH in the flying mile, and everybody still had reservations about hitting the speed of sound (it wouldn’t be until 1997 – 25 years later – that the first supersonic land-speed run would take place).
Mechanix Illustrated outlined the proposed match race in its November 1972 issue, though in hindsight, the article was likely just a clothed funding pitch for both men’s racing efforts – national attention to the sport had waned, sponsorships were on the decline, and racing was becoming more expensive. We don’t see evidence that the Gabelich-Breedlove side-by-side race ever progressed beyond these drawings, thanks to both the lack of funding and Gabelich’s severe injuries from the drag racing accident mentioned toward the end of the article. Nor do we see evidence that a similar proposed match race between Art Arfons and Billy Meyer, to take place a few years later, would ever materialise. Please enjoy this article and the excitement it would have created, and who knows one day we might return to this concept.
Click on the images to enlarge pages and read the 1972 article.