Henry Seagrave


(22 September 1896 - 13 June 1930)

Henry Seagrave
Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile
March 21, 1926 Southport, Great Britain Henry Segrave Great Britain 4 Litre Sunbeam Ladybird
75 degree V-12
IC 152.30 mph (245.10 km/h) 149.32 mph (240.31 km/h)  
March 29, 1927 Daytona Beach, USA Henry Seagrave Great Britain 100hp Sunbeam 'Slug'
2x Sunbeam V-12
IC 202.98 mph (326.66 km/h) 203.79 mph (327.97 km/h) Became first man ever to exceed 200 mph
March 11, 1929 Daytona Beach, USA Henry Segrave Great Britain Irving-Napier Golden Arrow
Napier Lion W-12 Cylinder
IC 231.56 mph (372.66 km/h) 231.36 mph (372.34 km/h)  

Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave was famous for setting three land speed records and the water speed record. He was the first person to hold both the land and water speed records simultaneously. He was the first person to travel at over 200 mph (320 km/h) in a land vehicle. The Segrave Trophy was established in 1930 to commemorate his life.

World War I

A British national, Segrave was born in Baltimore, Maryland of an American mother and an Irish father. He was raised in Ireland and attended Eton College in England. He was commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1914 and served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps from January 1916 (although he retained his commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment). He was wounded twice, in 1915 and 1916. In July 1916 he became a flight commander as a temporary captain. In 1919 he transferred to the Royal Air Force Administrative Branch, but soon resigned his commission due to his wounds. Segrave bragged that he would drive a car at over 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). People thought that the war had made him mad.

Grand Prix motor racing career

He was the first Briton to win a Grand Prix in a British car. He won the 1923 French Grand Prix and the 1924 San Sebastian Grand Prix at Circuito Lasarte (Spain) in a Sunbeam automobile. After a further win at Miramas in France, he retired from racing to concentrate on speed records.

Land speed record

On 21 March 1926, he set his first land speed record in his 4 litre Sunbeam Tiger Ladybird on the sands at Southport, England at 152.33 mph (245.149 km/h). This record lasted for almost a year, until broken by J.G. Parry-Thomas driving Babs

He regained the land speed record in 29 March 1927 in his 1000 HP Sunbeam Mystery (also known as 'the Slug') at the Daytona Beach Road Course at 203.79 mph (327.97 km/h), becoming the first person to travel over 200 mph (320 km/h).

Segrave set his final land speed record at 231.45 mph (372.46 km/h) in his new car, the beautiful Golden Arrow, at Daytona Beach on 11 March 1929. This car had only 18.74 miles (30.16 km) on it[citation needed], which is the least used car to set the record. After being the first person on the scene of Lee Bible's death, Segrave began concentrating on the water speed record. Golden Arrow has never been used since.

Water speed record and death

Segrave was also an avid motorboat racer.

After his 1929 land speed record, he immediately went to Miami for a motorboat race against Garfield Wood, multiple water speed record holder and the first man to travel over 100 miles per hour on water. Segrave won, causing Wood's first defeat in nine years. After Segrave returned to Great Britain, he was knighted for his many accomplishments.

A few months after receiving his knighthood, on Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave unknowingly captured the water speed record driving Miss England II on England's largest natural lake, Windermere. In a follow up run the boat presumably hit a log and capsized, killing Miss England's mechanic, Victor Halliwell. Segrave's unconscious body was recovered, and taken to a hospital. He regained consciousness for a moment, was informed that he had indeed broken the record, then died a few moments later of lung haemorrhages.

Kaye Don would later break two more world water speed records in Miss England II.

Aircraft designer

When Segrave's interest in flying returned in the late 1920s he designed an aircraft for luxury touring. The aircraft was a wooden twin-engined monoplane built as the Saro Segrave Meteor, three metal versions being built as the Blackburn Segrave.


Henry Segrave (1928). The Lure of Speed.

In 1930, the Segrave Trophy was established in his memory. It is awarded annually to the Briton who demonstrates the most outstanding achievement on land, at sea or in the air.