Three Wheels But Classed as a Motorcycleby Harry Fisher, on
Craig Breedlove’s 1963 land speed record attempt in Spirit of America resulted in a new record of 407.45mph. However, FIA rules at the time stated that a vehicle had to have four wheels, with at least two being driven. As Sprit of America was a thrust-driven vehicle and ran on three wheels, it was classed as a motorcycle.
When a car is a motorcycle
In 1963, Craig Breedlove took his new vehicle, Spirit of America, to the Bonneville Salt Flats in order to attempt to set a new Land Speed Record. Powered by a General Electric J47 turbojet engine in what virtually amounted to a jet fighter with no wings and three wheels - two outrigged at the rear and one up front - he set a new record of 407.45mph, the average of his two timed runs.
But that first record caused a controversy. Because the FIA (Federation Internationale Automobile - the governing body of all motorsport, based in Paris, France) rule book stated that a ’car’ had to have four wheels and be driven through at least two of them, in their view Spirit of America was not a car, but a motorcycle as rules then dictated that any vehicle with two or three wheels was a motorcycle.
As thrust-driven vehicles were clearly the future, the FIA then ratified a new class of record-breaking car powered by thrust engines and so Breedlove’s record was reinstated as a car LSR.
But, for a short while, a motorcycle held the outright Land Speed Record!
Oh, and then to have the Beach Boys make a record about it was pretty cool, wasn’t it! Can’t imagine Taylor Swift making a record when Bloodhound reaches 1000mph, can you?