Ab Jenkins with the 1932 Pierce Arrow

September 19, 1932 – Driving 12 cylinders for 24 hours straight

Piece Arrow came up with a grand marketing plan to promote the reliability and power of its new 12-cylinder cars for 1932: drive one for 24 hours straight. The luxury automaker called on race car driver and development engineer Ab Jenkins to pilot a 1932 Model 53 Roadster on the salt flats of Bonneville. This particular car was altered for the event, having its fenders and windshield removed. During the 24 hour run around a makeshift circular track, Jenkins averaged 112.91 mph and covered 2,710 miles, marking the first 24 hour solo drive in the US.

Though Jenkins made pit stops for fuel, food and drink, he never left the driver’s seat for the duration of the run. Pierce management was quite pleased with the results, but the would be record wasn’t recognized by the official sanctioning body for endurance attempts at the time, AAA Contest Board. The previous year AAA had suspended and fined Jenkins for a number of alleged infractions at Muroc Dry Lake during a different record attempt, in turn refusing to certify the Bonneville run. Pierce-Arrow, nonetheless capitalized on the event by capturing Jenkins’ efforts in a 41-minute documentary titled Flight of the Arrow, which was used to market the new 12 cylinders.

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