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Stand By Me Lady Campbell

Stand By Me Lady Campbell

Exactly ninety-two years ago today and amongst the many people who would have been on hand to congratulate Sir Malcolm Campbell on a new World Land Speed Record was Mrs Dorothy Emily Edith Evelyn Campbell, who had married the world-famous motor racer back in 1920.

Sir Malcolm is sat within a 350 hp V12 Sunbeam Blue Bird, which achieved a total of three World Land Speed Records. The first of these was whilst in the hands of Irishman Kenelm Lee Guinness, most well known for the manufacture of the KLG spark plug, who successfully clocked a speed of 133.75 mph (215.24 km/h) at Brooklands Racing Circuit in Surrey on 17th May 1922.
Having noticed the clear potential of the vehicle, Sir Malcolm persuaded Sunbeam to let him purchase the car in the hope of being the first person to drive at over 150 mph. After some unsuccessful trials in both the UK and Denmark, Campbell achieved 146.16 mph (235.22 km/h) on 25th September 1924 on Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire. It was a notable improvement to the record set by Kenelm but it was still 4 mph short of Malcolm’s target. With the Sunbeam’s tail lengthened afterwards for improved aerodynamic performance, Campbell went on to achieve 150.76 mph (242.62 km/h) on 21st July 1925, also on the 7-mile stretch of compacted sand at Pendine.

Lady Campbell seemed to be fairly mechanically aware herself, nicely demonstrated in a 1928 short film made by Pathe News entitled ‘Camera Interview – Mrs Malcolm Campbell’ where she can be seen working on various car engines, including that of the 1927 Campbell-Napier Blue Bird in what looks to be the company of a young Leo Villa, lifelong mechanic of Sir Malcolm, as well as her husband too. The footage goes on to show Lady Campbell behind the wheel of a motorcar, going around the banked circuit at Brooklands. Another car follows behind, perhaps it is a camera car or perhaps it is Sir Malcolm who was a shareholder of the circuit and designer of the Campbell road racing circuit to provide an alternative challenge to the Outer Circuit.

Text by Gillian Carmoodie


#1 David Haywood 2017-07-28 09:46
Leo Villa went on to be chief mechanic/engineer for Colin Campbell, Malcolm Campbell's son.

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