December 6, 1976 – Kitty O’Neil sets women’s land speed record

If you were to find yourself in the Alvord Desert in Oregon on this day in 1976 you may have been lucky enough to watch stuntwoman Kitty O’Neil set the women’s land speed record at 512.710 mph (825.127 km/h). Prior to her record breaking run Kitty was working as a stuntwoman when she met Bill Fredrick, a stunt technology maker who built the SMI Motivator, the car which would carry Kitty across the desert. She landed a $20,000 contract to pilot the vehicle in an attempt to break the women’s land speed record, previously set at  308.506 mph (496.492 km/h) in 1965 by Lee Breedlove in the “Spirit of America – Sonic 1.” A certain stipulation of the contract was that she was not allowed to pursue the broader land speed record of 630.478 mph (1014.656) so that stunt person Hal Needham could pursue it instead using the same vehicle. Dec 6 – Illustration of the SMI Motivator, the vehicle in which Kitty O’Neil broke the women’s land speed record. – By Brian Corey