Quest for Speed


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Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed
Quest for Speed

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

  • ISBN: 978-1-910505-59-5

  • Format: 210x290mm (landscape)

  • Hardback

  • 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.

    “Fantastic… what really stands out is the passion for telling the story of each attempt… exceptionally good value.”
    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.”
    Motor Sport

    “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.”
    Classic Cars

    “What a truly great book! This history of those with a ‘Quest for Speed’ is superb.”
    Rick Vesco

    “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.”

    “What I noticed first, are the wonderful illustrations, on every single page. Beautifully rendered, all of the vehicles are shown in side view, very often with sketches showing technical details… the illustrations are complemented with a well-written story on each vehicle, its record(s), its driver, and in some cases, its patron or designer… I congratulate Barry John on his fine work, and Evro Publishing for making this high-quality book possible. I highly recommend it.” (Don Taylor)

    “From the first to the last page, entertaining, exciting, amazing — and all this at a fair price.” (Germany)

    Best of British

    “A wonderfully unique book that anyone interested in motorsports would truly enjoy… outstanding.”
    Area Auto Racing News (Herb Anastor)

    “All sorts of incredible machinery is charted along the way, including plenty of machines that you probably haven’t encountered before… all nicely illustrated in colour with John’s own drawings.”
    Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain

    “This fantastically illustrated book details nearly 80 land-speed record cars… a great book for speed freaks and engineering nuts alike.”
    Classic Car Weekly

    “Each machine is illustrated by a highly detailed side view of meticulous draughtsmanship… good value for money.”
    The Automobile

    “Truly a delight visually and textually… Quest for Speed is one man’s words and images, for the author is also the creator of all the illustrations. Taken all together the book is its creator’s joyful celebration of his lifelong fascination with speed. But not undisciplined speed, for this book most particularly celebrates and pays tribute to those straight-line land speed seekers and the machines they imagined, then built, and subsequently accomplished with them.”

    “The entire book is remarkable… it gives context and understanding of technological developments and advances… then there are the images that illustrate — each individually and meticulously created for accuracy by the author. They are a delight.”
    Avanti magazine

    “For me, the real attraction of the book is that the author has not only written a very readable two-page summary of each record attempt (76 in total) but he has also illustrated the book with his own superb profile paintings of every vehicle. Brilliant!”
    Classic Driver (NZ)

    Quest for Speed excels in every way. It is as interesting as it is a pleasurable read and a visual delight… offers a lot to enjoy between its hard covers for a very reasonable price.”
    Antique Automobile

    Quest for Speed proved its usefulness and worth as a reliable research resource within mere hours of being unboxed… in its entirety, the work of one man, for Barry John researched and wrote the text and drew each of the 327 color and 45 greyscale illustrations. He designed the pages as well… Quest for Speed excels in every facet. It’s as interesting as it is a pleasurable read. Visually it is a delight with the created-just-for-it artwork… the entire book will become a useful, likely oft-consulted and used resource.”
    SAH Journal (Society of Automotive Historians)

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