Henry Segrave  Great Britain

  • Full name Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave
  • Aka Sir Henry Segrave
  • Birth date September 22, 1896
  • Birthplace Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • Date of death June 13, 1930 (33 years 264 days)
  • Place of death Windermere, Cumbria, Great Britain
driver portrait

Henry Segrave was a household name for much of the 1920s thanks to his feats on both land and water, at one time holding the land and water-speed records simultaneously.

A British national, he was born in Baltimore of an American mother and an Irish father and subsequently raised in Ireland while being educated at Eton. After distinguished service in World War One, from 1916 with the Royal Flying Corp, he resigned from the army in 1919 and set about perusing his ambition to drive a car at 200mph.

In 1923 he became the first Briton to win a Grand Prix in a British car (in France) and he followed up with another victory in 1924 in San Sebastian. After a third success he retired to concentrate on speed records.

On March 21, 1926 he set the land speed record on Southport Sands in his four-litre Sunbeam Tiger (152.33 mph, 245.149 km/h). A year later this was beaten but he regained it on March 29, 1927 at Daytona Beach when he fulfilled his ambition to exceed 200mph. At the same location he set his third and final record on March 11, 1929 when he recorded 231.45mph.

He then turned his attention to the water speed record, heading to Miami where he immediately became the first man to beat multiple record holder Garfield Wood in nine years. Seagrace returned to Britain where he was knighted.

On June 13, 1930 he broke the water speed record on Windermere in the Lake District. One the return run his boat capsised after hitting a log. He was rescued and taken unconscious to hospital. He briefly regained consciousness when he was told of his achievement before dying minutes later of internal injuries.
Martin Williamson

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