Sir Malcolm Campbell  Great Britain

  • Full name Sir Malcolm Campbell
  • Birth date March 11, 1885
  • Birthplace Chislehurst, Kent, Great Britain
  • Date of death December 31, 1948 (63 years 295 days)
  • Place of death Reigate Surrey, Great Britain
  • Relation Son - DM Campbell
  • Other roles Journalist
driver portrait

Sir Malcolm Campbell was a leading racer and speed-record racer in the 1920s and 1930s, at various times holding records on both land and water in his famous Bluebird vehicles.

The son of a Hatton Garden diamond merchant, he was educated at Uppingham and went to Germany to learn languages during which time he developed an interest in motorbike-racing. He continued his fascination with speed while working at Lloyd's of London, and while there he saw a play called The Blue Bird. christening his current and all subsequent cars that name. In 1909 he built his own plane, crashing it on his first flight, and 1910 he started racing cars at Brooklands before seeing service throughout World War One.

After demobilisation he took up racing cars seriously and won many times, often at Brooklands, and gradually started getting more interested in speed rather than races. In 1927 and 1928 he won the Grand Prix de Boulogne in France driving a Bugatti T39A. In 1926 he finished second in the inaugural British Grand Prix.

In 1924 he broke the land-speed record - the first of nine land records he held - at Pendine Sands in Wales. The last record came 11 years later in Utah when he became the first man to pass 300mph. He then turned to water, and broke the water-speed record four times, reaching 141.7mph on Coniston Water in Bluebird IV in August 1939.

World War Two ended the pursuit of such records, although he served throughout and continuosly and unsuccessfully tried to get on active service. He died after a series of strokes in 1948. He had been knighted in 1931 after one of his record-breaking runs in Daytona.

He was politically active, unsuccessfully standing for parliament as a Conservative in 1935. He also briefly dallied with the British Union of Fascists.
Martin Williamson

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