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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Campbell born into speed dynasty
Donald Campbell
Campbell came from a family of speed record breakers
The late Donald Campbell was a man born to break records for speed on water and land.

The son of Sir Malcolm Campbell, who set the land speed record in 1935, Donald took up the speed challenge after his father's death.

He first began record-breaking attempts with the water-speed record using his father's boat.


He suffered a 170mph crash in 1951 and was prompted to develop a completely new boat, the Bluebird K7.

This seemed to do the trick and it was in this boat that he set seven world water-speed records between 1955 and 1964.

The first took place at Ullswater, in the Lake District, where he set a record of 202mph, then raised it to 216mph at Lake Mead in 1955.

It was then that he began a series of record-breaking runs at Coniston where he reached a speed of 248mph in 1958.

Attention turned to cars

Campbell then turned his attention to cars but this proved more hazardous.

While attempting a record run in 1960 at Utah, he crashed very heavily, prompting a long convalescence period.

Undaunted by this setback, Campbell went on to set a new World Land Speed Record in 1964 at Lake Eyre, Australia.

In December of the same year, again in Australia, this time at Lake Dumbleyung, he achieved a unique and incredible second world speed record, this time on water at 276.33mph.

He became the first and, so far, the only person to hold both water and land speed records.

Crash on Coniston

It was while Campbell was trying to break his own water speed record on 4 January 1967, that tragedy struck.

He was trying to become the first person to go over 300mph on water, when he crashed.

He had achieved a speed of 297mph on the first leg, but he turning around and set off on the second leg without refuelling.

The boat lifted out of the water after exceeding a speed of 300mph, somersaulted and disintegrated on landing on the surface.

Campbell was killed instantly.

The Bluebird was discovered by enthusiasts last year and was raised from the water earlier this year. Campbell's teddy bear mascot was found in the wreck.

Campbell was only 46 when he died and achieved legendary status in his own lifetime.

Legacy lives on

It seems that the Campbell legacy will continue.

Last year, Sir Malcolm's grandson, and Donald's nephew, Don Wales, broke the British land-speed record for an electrically-powered car.

Don Wales achieved 128mph in his car Bluebird Electric, beating the current record, which he also holds, of 116 mph.

See also:

10 Aug 01 | UK
Body in lake is Campbell
29 May 01 | UK
DNA tests on Bluebird body
08 Mar 01 | UK
Divers salvage the Bluebird
04 Feb 01 | UK
Divers find Bluebird wreck
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