On this day in 1927, residents of Daytona Beach, Florida, rose to clear, sunny skies. The early spring sun pushed temperatures to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect conditions for setting a new land speed record, which is just what British race car driver Henry Segrave intended to do on the sands of the beach. Segrave, who set his first land speed record in 1926, was anxious to earn the top spot once again after a rival out did him. This time he’d make a run from behind the wheel of the 1,000 horsepower Sunbeam. The Sunbeam, also known as “Mystery” and “The Slug,” was powered by two Sunbeam Matabele aircraft engine. More unique is the fact that one sat in front of the driver and one behind.
During his record run on this day in 1927, Segrave recorded a speed of 203.79 mph (327.97 km/h), making him the first person to ever drive an automobile faster than 200 miles per hour. As if that wasn’t enough, Segrave would later set water speed records as well, becoming the first person to hold the water and land speed records simultaneously. Unfortunately, like many speed demons of the era, his record breaking attemps are what ultimately cost him his life He died in June 1930 during a water speed record attempt at Windermere in England. The 200 mph run can be watched below.