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Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties Paperback – Sep 16 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books (Sept. 16 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554076331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554076338
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 15 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 771 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #352,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 20 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A great read about a fascinating era for the Land Speed Record Oct. 21 2010
By Rand Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Speed Duel is an great book about what many consider the most fascinating era concerning the elusive Land Speed Record. The LSR had been owned by the British since the 30's, but as the 60's dawned, it had attracted the dreamers of the American Hot Rod world. The author does a great job of bringing the decade alive as the focus shifted from wheel driven cars powered by piston engines to the jet and rocket powered cars.

The book pays special attention to the years from 1962-66 when Craig Breedlove, the Californian with the Hollywood looks, battled the Arfons' brothers from Akron Ohio, with their backyard ingenuity. Breedlove and the Arfons traded the title back and forth between them several times as the record was increased from 400 mph to 600 mph in just a couple years. The book also covers those who tried and failed, sometimes while losing their lives in the process. Finally, the author attempts to discover what motivated these men to spend all the time, effort, and $$$ to attempt such a dangerous mission for frankly little financial gain.

I have been a racing enthusiast for many years, and while of course, I had heard about Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove, I really never was all that interested in the LSR before now. I decided to buy this book to learn more, and am glad I did as it gave me a strong admiration for these men and what they accomplished.

Great book and highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Simply outstanding! Dec 13 2010
By Frederick P. Voegelin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To put it simply, this is a marvelous book. I purchased it because of my longstanding interest in the technology behind the land speed record. It covered that well, but then went far beyond a chronology of record runs. The author's portraits of the men (and women) who pursued the LSR are engaging. This human element makes this book one of the best motorsports titles I have read.

The contrast the author draws between the Hollywood flash of Craig Breedlove and the taciturn Arfons brothers from Ohio is fascinating -- as is his description of the complex relationship between the feuding brothers. While the exploits of the successful LSR racers are well known, the author also brings to light those who were not successful, including several who paid the ultimate price. Anyone who visits the Salt Flats after reading this book will feel the spirits of Athol Graham and Glenn Leasher.

Great storytelling about a great subject!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Speed Duel review Oct. 29 2010
By Thomas in Ohio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Samuel Hawley has done his homework well: researching, verifying with primary sources and with as many surviving witnesses as possible. The result is an accurate history of a special time that will never return. Unpublished photography and personal stories set this apart from all other land speed books. You will truly enjoy this book, and learn a few things in the process, even if you thought you knew it all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An outstanding book Feb. 10 2012
By L. F. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book about an amazing era in motor sports. During the 1960s, a few American back-yard mechanics and hotrodders dominated what had been the preserve of British sportsman, the Land Speed Record. The book chronicles that time, focusing on the duel between Craig Breedlove and Art Arfons.

These two men were quite dissimilar in terms of personality and upbringing, but they were remarkably similar in one way: They were willing to sacrifice their financial well-being, their careers, and even their lives in pursuit of the LSR, a pursuit that killed a startling number of the competitors. And they did this for glory, since there really wasn't much money in it. Indeed, they were victimized by Goodyear and Firestone, the companies that provided most of what little sponsorship money that was available.

One of the most astonishing things about the story of this time is that the LSR competitors were literally cobbling together their machines in small shops and backyards, sometimes using junk parts. Unlike today's multimillion dollar, fully sponsored efforts, these were cars created by guys who wanted to go fast-- REALLY fast-- and figured out how to do it on their own. Think about it: Going 500 MPH in a homemade car with a jet engine the military had discarded.

The book is well balanced. There's enough technical information to satisfy most readers, but the focus is really on the people. By the end, you'll fee that you actually know these remarkable men. The book is also very well written. It's a you-are-there narrative with can't-put-it-down urgency.

This is an outstanding book, and I recommend it most highly.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Engaging Storytelling and Yet Still Interesting to Techie Types Jan. 31 2012
By mastermindquiet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An excellent telling of the history of the attempts on the Land Speed Record in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. The author's story telling style reminds me of "Seabiscuit" by Laura Hillenbrand, engaging and atmospheric, yet factual and detailed. Fans of the technical details of the vehicles might feel let down a bit as this is not the main focus of the book, but there is still a lot to enjoy even for them. For the general reader, the incredible struggles and sacrifices of those involved makes this book hard to put down. Plenty of photographs are included. Very highly recommended.


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