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Photo of the day: Donald Campbell with Bluebird K7
On the 50th anniversary of his death, here's Donald and his record-breaking boat
January 4 1967 is a notable date in the history of world speed records. It’s the day Donald Campbell - a holder of both land and water speed records in his life - succumbed to his attempt to top 300mph in Bluebird K7.
In fact, he had become the first person in the world to travel above 300mph on water, touching almost 330mph. Sadly, his record attempt was halted by a dramatic somersault that took K7 and its skipper below the water. Neither were seen again until they were recovered to the surface of the Lake District’s Coniston Water in 2001.
Donald set records at a time when they were headline news the world over, and those who broke them were the heroes of schoolboys and girls. And his fatal attempt to top 300mph wasn’t merely to break his own record in the venerable K7; it was to raise publicity for his project to top 800mph on land with a car called Bluebird CN8.
Fifty years after his death, Bloodhound SSC has the same target in 2017, driver Andy Green aiming for 800mph as the first record on his way to an eventual 1,000mph. A perfect time, then, to reflect upon the dozens of land, water and air-based heroes that have filled the record books up to this point.
For a look back at Donald Campbell’s life via a road trip around the Lake District, check out issue 291 of Top Gear magazine, on sale now