Last Land Speed Record for USA. Gary Gabelich – The Blue Flame

Last Land Speed Record for USA. October 23rd 1970, Gary Gabelich - The Blue Flame 622.407 Mph

 

Blue Flame is the rocket-powered vehicle driven by Gary Gabelich that achieved the world land speed record on Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on October 23, 1970. The vehicle set the FIA world record for the flying mile at 622.407 mph (1,001.667 km/h) and the flying kilometer at 630.388 mph

 

The frame of the Blue Flame is a semi-monocoque type aluminum, with welded tubular structure in the nose section and with an aluminum "skin." The vehicle is 37 feet 4.6 inches (11.394 m) long, 8 feet 1.5 inches (2.477 m) high to the top of the tail fin, 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m) wide and the wheelbase is 306 inches (7.8 m). It has an empty weight of 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) and is approximately 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) fully fueled and loaded. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. designed 8:00-25 tires for the vehicle, with an outside diameter of 34.8 inches (880 mm) and smooth tire tread surface to help prevent heat buildup using Nitrogen gas at 350 pounds per square inch (24 bar)

 

Gary Gabelich was born 29 August 1940 and was raised in southern California and attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School. He grew up during the height of the Southern California race scene and became friends with many famous racers of the era like drag racer Tom McEwen. The nearby Lions Drag Strip was adjacent to Long Beach and he was influenced by the NHRA drag racing legend Big Joe Reath of the Reath Automotive Speed Shop in Long Beach.  Gary married Rae Marie Ramsey (born 1946). She graduated Palo Alto High School Palo Alto, CA in 1964 and moved to Long Beach in 1968. Guy Michael Gabelich was born in the early 1980s. She was a flight attendant and later a member of the Long Beach.

 

Racing career

In 1969 Gabelich established a quarter mile Drag boat record of 200.44 mph (323 km/h) This is not the same as the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Water Speed Record (WSR) in which Donald Campbell broke 200 mph (322 km/h) on 23 July 1955 in the Bluebird K7.

Gabelich was seriously injured in the crash of an experimental 4 wheel drive Funny Car in 1972  that careered out of control at 180 mph (290 km/h) during a quarter mile run almost severing his left forearm and broke his left leg so severely that more than a year later he still wore a cast. This incident ended his racing career and he never raced again, concentrating instead on a new supersonic vehicle.

 

In the early 1980s he established the "Rocketman Corporation" with Tom Daniel. The objective was to design and build a vehicle capable of reaching speeds in the 800 mph (1,287 km/h) range. This conceptual vehicle was named "American Way but the project was cut short by his untimely death in January 1984 in a motorcycle crash.

 Gary Gabelich was part of the cast in the 1977 movie "Joyride to nowhere" and he made a documentary,"One Second from Eternity: The History of the Land Speed Record" in 1971. Gary and his family appeared on the Family Feud with Richard Dawson, where he presented the key to the city of Long Beach, California. to Mr Dawson.

 

In 2008 Gary was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame] in front of the Convention Center on Pine Avenue. He was represented at the ceremony by his wife Rae, a Long Beach City Councilwoman who retired in 2012 after 8 years service.

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