John Cobb
John Cobb
Category: Historic
CLASS OF: 2021
BORN: December 2, 1899
DIED: September 29, 1952

Two-time land speed record-holder (1939, 1947) at Bonneville
Set both in wildly different Railton Special vehicles
His 1947 mark stood longer than any LSR in history 
Set lap record at England’s Brooklands race track (1935)
Royal Air Force pilot during WWII
Died in 1952 attempting world water speed record on Loch Ness


Englishman John Rhodes Cobb earned prominence in the U.S. by establishing the Land Speed Record on the Salt Flats of Bonneville. In 1939, he drove his piston-engine, wheel-driven Railton Special to a new world mark of 369.70 MPH. In 1947, Cobb upped his own record to 394.2 MPH in a completely redesigned Railton Mobil Special. Cobb used two second-hand 1928 Napier Lion airplane engines mounted at an angle, one driving the front wheels, the other the rears. Their output was estimated at 2,500 HP. Cobb’s record lasted longer than any other LSR for the flying mile, finally surpassed by 1993 inductee Craig Breedlove’s jet-powered Spirit of America (407.45 MPH) in 1963 and the Summer Brothers’ piston-engine, wheel-driven Goldenrod (409.277 MPH) in 1965. An RAF pilot during WWII, in 1935 Cobb had set the ultimate lap record at England’s Brooklands race track at an average speed of 143.44 MPH. Cobb perished in 1952 attempting to break the world water speed record at Loch Ness in the jet speedboat Crusader.

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