KEEPING THE SPIRIT ALIVE SINCE 1999

This is Ray Keech going for the World Land Speed Record at Daytona in 1928.

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19-Mar-20/historicracing.com/ Land Speed Record

The enormous White-Triplex Special had three V/12 Liberty engines with a total engine capacity of 81-litres. It was as monstrous to drive as it looked. Lee Bible, the chief mechanic, wanting to make his mark on the World, expressed an interest in driving the monster. The barrel-roll that followed certainly left the required mark, did nothing for his record chances and simply lead to a text-book display of how such flamboyant behaviour may so easily result in one’s personal dust allocation becoming substantially and with finite implications.....bitten.

 

Ray is riding the enormous White-Triplex Special. Purpose built by Philadelphia businessman J.H.White, it had three V/12 Liberty engines, one in the front and two side-by-side in the back, giving a total engine capacity of 81-litres! Making the White-Triplex Special probably the largest capacity, piston-engined car ever constructed. These were in turn mounted on a giant ladder chassis, and covered with a simple, but graceful “aerodynamic” bodywork.

 

Ray Keech, a winner of the Indianapolis 500 winner, was one of America’s favourite drivers at that time, and employed by White on a purely professional basis.

 

The car though, was as monstrous to drive as it looked. Ray found it a difficult outfit to control at the best of times, but coupled with being hospitalised after getting scalded by a burst water pipe, seriously burnt by flames leaking from a front exhaust pipe, and, on one occasion, flying (81-litres-and-all!) for over 50-feet after hitting a pot-hole, he came close to telling White that he could park his so-called car in his back lot!

 

But the record fell: 207.55 mph. And Ray went home a happy, but significantly wiser, man.

 

Twelve months later, Sir Henry Segrave made a small improvement to the record, and old J.H. felt compelled to unholster his mighty beast and give it another go.

 

Ray Keech was contacted, and offered a second chance at fortune and glory. His response was short and to the point. But basically, he felt he’d get far more benefit from pursuing other options. ANY other options.

 

When Ray Keech, regarded as one of the best drivers in the country, wouldn’t drive it, other’s took that as a warning worth taking on board and White found himself unable to acquire a firm hand to grip his tiller. That was until his Chief Mechanic, Lee Bible, expressed an interest.

 

Lee had no previous experience at all, of this sort of thing. But he knew the car as well as anyone, and saw it as a golden opportunity to make his mark in the World.

 

On the day of his record attempt, Lee told a reporter that this was going be the “best day of my life”. A statement that, in retrospect, he would probably want to thoroughly reconsider....

 

Half-way through his run, he was to suddenly find himself able to understand clearly and confirm completely, Ray Keech’s concerns about the overall safety of the White-Triplex Special.

 

The barrel-roll that followed certainly left the required mark in the World, but it did nothing for his record chances, and simply lead to a text-book display of how such flamboyant behaviour may so easily result in one’s personal dust allocation becoming substantially and with finite implications.....bitten.


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