Special Report

A History of Land Speed Records

Since the first officially recognized land speed record in 1898, there have always been daredevils who aimed to push the boundaries of speed, driving cars faster and faster. Drivers have set records in vehicles powered by steam, electricity, gasoline, and even rockets. The impressiveness of these records is only matched by the incredible stories of the people who made them possible.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed sources such as the History in Numbers Land Speed Record database and reviewed some of the innovative vehicles that set land speed records. The car’s speed is calculated by averaging the top speed of two runs in opposite directions.

This is a selection of record-breaking runs, but there are dozens more land speed records that were set and broken in the intervening years. Many of the drivers and vehicles that set records set multiple records in short succession.

In nearly every case, the cars that set these records were specifically built for that purpose. This is why these cars look almost nothing like what the average American drives on a daily basis. While this kind of outside-the-box thinking is necessary to break records, major automakers try it as well, sometimes constructing some truly bizarre vehicles. These are the the most intriguing concept cars that never saw the light of day.

Click here to see a history of land speed records.