Quest for Speed
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By Barry John
Foreword by David Tremayne
As Land Speed Record historian David Tremayne states in his foreword, ‘This is a wonderful book that celebrates passion.’ In a remarkable first book, Barry John has celebrated his life-long passion for the quest for speed by writing, illustrating and designing this fascinating history of record-breaking on land. Along with his informed and detailed text, his beautiful artwork shows all significant record-breakers in their immense variety, each illustrated in profile and accompanied by a cameo portrait of its driver. From the start of it all in the late 19th Century to today’s challengers seeking to reach ‘the last frontier’, 1,000mph, the story that unfolds will enthral not only enthusiasts for the subject but anyone appreciative of innovative engineering and brave human endeavour.
- Early records, often achieved with electric cars such as Camille Jenatzy’s La Jamais Contente (65mph, 1899) and steam-powered vehicles such as Fred Marriott’s Stanley Steamer (127mph, 1906).
- Britain’s speed kings, most significantly Malcolm Campbell, whose record-breaking began with a Sunbeam 350HP (146mph, 1924) and culminated in him becoming the first man to exceed 300mph, in his final Blue Bird (301mph, 1935).
- Other notable British achievements, including Henry Segrave’s Golden Arrow (231mph, 1929), George Eyston’s Thunderbolt (345mph, 1938), John Cobb’s Railton Mobil Special (394mph, 1947) and Donald Campbell’s Bluebird (403mph, 1964).
- American pre-eminence in the jet age, when a flurry of Bonneville records fell to Art Arfons in Green Monster (576mph, 1965), Craig Breedlove in Spirit of America (600mph, 1965) and Gary Gabelich in Blue Flame (622mph, 1970).
- Richard Noble’s exploits at Black Rock Desert, first as a driver in Thrust2 (633mph, 1983), then as mastermind of ThrustSSC, the current record holder with Andy Green and the only car to have broken the sound barrier on land (763mph, 1997).
- Besides the absolute records, the book covers national and class records where we encounter vehicles as diverse as Dave Spangler’s Turbinator II (fastest wheel-driven car), Andy Green’s Dieselmax (fastest diesel), Rocky Robinson’s Ack Attack (fastest motorcycle) and Don Wales’s Inspiration (steam-powered record-holder).
Publication date: October 2020
Format: 210x290mm (landscape)
Page extent: 184
Illustration: over 350 colour illustrations
Like every boy in the 1950s, Barry John knew the names of Cobb and Campbell and possessed battered Dinky toys of their cars. When he was 15, he discovered Hot Rod magazine and, instantly mesmerised, bought it when pocket money stretched that far. In Hot Rod’s pages he discovered the exploits of Breedlove and Arfons — and has been fascinated ever since. After studying at Harrow School of Art, he pursued a career as a graphic designer. Now retired, he has applied his professional skills to his passion and produced this book. He lives in Kent.
Classic & Sports Car
“Detailed and entertaining… a brilliant book… worth every penny.”
“Barry John’s Quest for Speed is unarguably the most comprehensive ‘deep dive’ examination of man’s insatiable pursuit of speed to date. With very high production values, it accurately portrays the progression of speed, its parallelism with emerging technologies, and the larger-than-life figures that drove it relentlessly forward. It brilliantly celebrates the ever-surging velocity of man’s lust for speed with beautiful illustrations and insightful commentary… It is a high-quality collector’s piece and a must-read by any standard of speed as we know it. Aficionados of speed will no doubt treasure this book as a centerpiece of their land speed racing library.”
“Thoughtful and informative.”
“The author’s passion for the subject is on full display.”
“Barry John did a fantastic job on this Quest for Speed book. It goes back to the Blitzen Benz — one of the first Bonneville records in 1914. It’s got the Blue Bird with Malcolm Campbell, George Eyston, Challenger 1 with my Dad, Mickey Thompson — the Goldenrod, Burt Munro from ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’, the Burkland Streamliner, George Poteet, the Vesco boys... so many good things… Most of the cars I’ve mentioned are piston-powered cars, which I am in favor of, but it’s got all the jets and everything else in there — a great book by Barry John.”
Danny Thompson (radio interview)
“A labour of love… very well produced on quality paper.”
“I have every book ever written about Bonneville and there are some good ones, but Barry John’s book Quest for Speed is a really beautiful piece of work. It encompasses record-breaking vehicles in a way that I don’t think any other book has done. Barry has done a fabulous job of covering land-speed vehicles in a unique and comprehensive way.”
Charles Nearburg (radio interview)
“A delightful book… a charming and interesting title that more than justifies its cover price.”
“Read the mesmerizing story of the quest for speed in this beautifully illustrated book.”
Concepts International (USA)
“This is a very informative, entertaining, comprehensive book, and superb value.”
“What a truly great book! This history of those with a ‘Quest for Speed’ is superb.”
“This is an excellent book, concentrating on man’s long-term quest to travel ever faster on land.”
“Ideal for a younger audience, especially if you are seeking to wean your kids off computer games and would like to introduce them to the excitement of the real world.”
“From the first to the last page, entertaining, exciting, amazing — and all this at a fair price.”
Best of British
“A wonderfully unique book that anyone interested in motorsports would truly enjoy… outstanding.”
Area Auto Racing News (Herb Anastor)