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Author Topic: Last American team to hold the official ALSR Blue Flame Oct 23 1970 622.407mph  (Read 88154 times)

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Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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If this has worked then you should see a pic of BF co-designer Dick Keller taken while the car was at Goodwood last year for the Bonneville display. If it hasn't worked, then clearly I'm a muppet in need of assistance.

Robin





Robin

Nice picture of a great designer with the Blue Flame in the background thanks for posting it

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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Gary Gabelich

 Four-Wheel Drive design AA/FC
http://www.northernthunder.com/gabelichfc.html

I just wonder how this four-wheel drive design would work on the salt flats with a streamliner body 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 11:18:16 AM by Blown Alcohol 57tbird »

Offline RayTheRat

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Thanks to all who've posted to this thread.  I've really enjoyed it.  I learned a whole lot and filed stuff away in my "LSR History" folder.

Thanks again,

RtR

Offline racefanwfo

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very cool funny car.
did it ever run.
where is it now.
I love it when a plan comes together!
col john "Hannibal" smith leader of the A-TEAM.

Offline Malcolm UK

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Robin - we know over here that you are not a muppet - although you might need assistance!  Even though the Blue Flame was some distance away at Goodwood the lack of surrounding Mercedes Benz cars as you get at Sinsheim, Germany (it's usual home) made up for it.

Four wheel drive funny car - I guess the major crash and fire at Orange County Raceway April 7th 1972 proved it could run ...... but not very well.  Left hand and left leg badly damaged stopped Gary (a left hander) from a speedy recovery.  [Information from David Tremayne].

Malcolm UK
Malcolm UK, Derby, England.

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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Robin - we know over here that you are not a muppet - although you might need assistance!  Even though the Blue Flame was some distance away at Goodwood the lack of surrounding Mercedes Benz cars as you get at Sinsheim, Germany (it's usual home) made up for it.

Four wheel drive funny car - I guess the major crash and fire at Orange County Raceway April 7th 1972 proved it could run ...... but not very well.  Left hand and left leg badly damaged stopped Gary (a left hander) from a speedy recovery.  [Information from David Tremayne].

Malcolm UK



Robin


I found a little bit on the Four wheel drive Funny Car ordel by (Cole Coonce)

After setting the Land Speed Record, Gary Gabelich drives a 4 wheel drive Funny Car, a car doomed to make one run. During a closed photo-op for some drag racing magazines at Orange County International Raceway, it is agreed that Gabelich will merely “smoke the tires” for photographers. Caught in the moment, Gabelich stays on the throttle and the car climbs onto the guardrail and rolls, unraveling like a tin lid on a can opener. Gabelich’s body is not exempt from the slicing and dicing and a hand is severed as well as other limbs sliced open like so much canned fruit. Through a stroke of luck, after being stuffed into a station wagon and raced to the hospital with severed limbs in tow Gabelich is sewed back together by a crack team of neurosurgeons. He was said to never be quite the same, unfortunately. He is later beheaded in a motorcycle accident with a diesel truck on the streets of San Pedro, CA. As a testament to free-wheelin’ lifestyle, he is eulogized more in biker magazines than in any hot rodding publications.


« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 11:57:17 AM by Blown Alcohol 57tbird »

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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 Blue Flame/ Four wheel drive AA/FC

 Info from Blue Flame Crew Member (Paul Stringer)


“Gary was very upset when the car was sold because he wanted to attempt a sound barrier run with the car. In 1970 when they raced it, they had many mishaps. The most Dodgeing was they burned out the retro in the rocket and had to get a loaner or a gift motor to finish. As I remember the original rocket had about 40,000 pounds of thrust and the actual motor they used to set the record had about 14,000. That would lead you to believe that the car could go much faster given the space limitations of the Salt Flats, and the ground effects of going supersonic.

”I can’t even describe how many hours we spent talking about where the air goes (under the car). Would the air flip the car when supersonic ’splits the air?‘ They talked at great length about lengthening the rod on the front tip of the car to split the air farther out in front to prevent any negative effects. Craig Breedlove was a very close friend of Gary’s and he as well was always helpful in helping Gary advance his efforts. Craig and Gary where from the same town in California and I met Craig in 1966 on a water skiing trip. Most would think that they would be strange bedfellows when Gary got picked to drive the car, but Craig was one of his biggest supporters and fans.

“Gary was trying to figure out how to stop the new car going supersonic also.

“The problems are: no air for chutes and brakes won’t work over 400MPH. He was working on a splitting tail like the Space Shuttle and body panels that popped out. Of course, he never considered running anywhere but the flats.

”Gary‘s feelings about the car being sold was this: the car was owned by the Natural Gas Association as a publicity stunt. When the car got the record, they received millions of dollars in promotion which they never could have bought. They never saw it as a race car and felt that a return to the flats and the risk of an accident would become negative publicity. Hence, the car was sold.

”Gary even pursued contacting the new car owner about another run. Apparently, the car had been dropped while being off loaded from a ship when it left the country and there was some tweaking of the frame and that ended his interest.

”Gary then began trying to raise sponsors for a new car he‘d named The American Way. While he raised some eyebrows at the time, he raised no money for the project as interest in the LSR had waned by then. This was in 1979 nine years after the last true attempt and he wasn‘t breaking another guy‘s record; he would only be raising his mark and sponsors wondered how much interest this would raise. To raise the interest, he and Craig Breedlove stated they‘d create some new interest by building two cars and they‘d ’drag race‘ for the record on the flats. Wow, a 700MPH drag race! Of course, Craig would have to change his thinking to a rocket as a Jet vs. Rocket race would be no race in a drag event the best I can remember is something like 0 to 500 in 10 seconds (more than a few G forces).

”One of the reasons Gary was chosen to drive the car (Blue Flame) was because his full time job was he worked for Rockwell International in Downey, California as a ’Test Astronaut.‘ He tested all the space suits for the Apollo space missions. This is a glorious title to say he was the guy going around in the centrifuge. He was used to a lot of G forces, they were always concerned that the driver would blackout during acceleration.

”As far as Gary‘s life being cut short, while we all miss him lots, few of us could picture him dying an old man. Gary’s life was lived on the edge from the time he was 15 years old. Gary started racing by cleaning up the grease/oil mess for some kids in his neighborhood who had a drag car. He did this for a few years on the promise that someday they‘d let him drive it at the drag strip. That day came when he was 15, on the first pass he went faster than any run ever in the car. One year later, he had his own car and became a legend in California drag racing. He was the ultimate crowd pleaser being a lot ’nuts & wild‘ and being EZ to spot as he always wore an ostrich plume on the top of his helmet. He’d love to taunt his competitors on the starting line by shaking his fist and sometimes getting out of his car to yell something. Of course, it was all in good fun and I never met another racer who didn‘t love his magnetic personality.

”While setting the LSR made Gary infamous, many of his friends consider it a high point in his life that made the rest of his life chasing a dream. After the record, he didn’t know if he was a career LSR car driver or needed to return to his career in Drag Racing. Before his death, he nearly lost his life four times to my count. He flipped a drag boat @ 200MPH and as he went in the water the motor hit him in the back, nearly killing him. His kidneys were badly damaged and he was on dialysis for two years. He had two accidents in the same Funny Car (Beach City Corvette). Once, he lost the chutes and ended up on fire on a freeway and the second accident, the car caught on fire during a run and burned to the ground (he jumped out at over 100MPH). That accident burned holes clear through his goggles and helmet but he had only minor burns to his face and head. The fourth accident was a crash in his own Funny Car. It had 4 wheel drive which made it very fast off the line. On a photo shoot for a magazine, the throttle locked down during a ’burn out‘ and he lost control. At about 160MPH it went through a guard rail twice and flipped end over end.

”Gary had one of his hands cut off to the outside skin, one leg was behind his head and one was wrapped around the steering wheel. That leg became the problem. While his hand was re-attached and the leg behind him was dislocated, the surgeons wanted to remove the other leg as it was nothing but shattered bone from the ankle. Gary would not let them remove the leg, so they inserted a long rod to replace the bone. He adapted to the handicap, but spent about a year trying to get rid of gangrene.“ –Blue Flame crew member Paul Stringer.


« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 12:07:57 PM by Blown Alcohol 57tbird »

Offline PorkPie

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Blue Flame/ Four wheel drive AA/FC

 Info from Blue Flame Crew Member (Paul Stringer)


“Gary was very upset when the car was sold because he wanted to attempt a sound barrier run with the car. In 1970 when they raced it, they had many mishaps. The most Dodgeing was they burned out the retro in the rocket and had to get a loaner or a gift motor to finish. As I remember the original rocket had about 40,000 pounds of thrust and the actual motor they used to set the record had about 14,000. That would lead you to believe that the car could go much faster given the space limitations of the Salt Flats, and the ground effects of going supersonic...

Historian knows this story a little bit different and also Pete Farnsworth would not agree.................
Pork Pie

Photoartist & Historian & 200 MPH Club Member

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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Blue Flame Big part of ALSR History

 The sad part of this historic Rocket car it was damedged. Even though Gary never new he would be the last American to ever hold the official ALSR. His record run is now 39 years to this day that he ran that and thats a long time. The fact is the car will never run again due to transport handling
 

Blue Flame crew member Paul Stringer.

”Gary even pursued contacting the new car owner about another run. Apparently, the car had been dropped while being off loaded from a ship when it left the country and there was some tweaking of the frame and that ended his interest.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2009, 08:05:00 PM by Blown Alcohol 57tbird »

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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 Motorsports Memorial

Gary Gabelich   
Complete name: Gary Gabelich
Birth date: 29.Aug.1940
Birth Place: San Pedro Hill, CA, United States
Death date: 26.Jan.1984
Death Place: Long Beach, CA, United States
Nationality: United States
Gender: male
 
 
Gary Gabelich, which family was of Croatian origins, was the driver of the "Blue Flame" that signed the Land Speed Record at the speed of 622.407 miles per hour (1001,67 km/h). He was killed in a road accident when his motorcycle crashed against a truck on 26 January 1984 at Long Beach, California.

Gabelich had his racing debut at the age of 16, winning first place in the stock eliminator drag racing class at Santa Ana Dragstrip, California. In 1959 he won world’s first side-by-side jet dragster race, topping 250 mph and then traveled 356 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats, in Wendover, UT, in a jet car, probably this was a record for a teen-ager. In 1963 he won the first United Drag Racing Association driving a Double A Fuel dragster. Then he worked for North American Rockwell, eventually becoming a test astronaut for the company, but he decided to get back into racing, competing in the 60s as a drag racer of both automobiles and boats. In 1968 he won the American Power Boat Association fuel hydro Championship, and the following year he set a National Drag Boat Association record of 200.44 mph (322.38 km/h).

Near the end of 1969 he was signed up by Reaction Dynamics Inc. to drive the Blue Flame, a 37-foot-long, three-wheels vehicle powered by a liquid natural gas-hydrogen peroxide rocket engine. Another drag racer, Chuck Suba was signed up before him but he was killed in a racing accident shortly thereafter. The first run for the Blue Flame land speed record attempt was scheduled for September 1969, but it was postponed due to tuning trouble until one year later, on 22 September 1970. This attempt was a failure, reaching Gary Gabelich a speed of only 426 mph, compared to Craig Breedlove's five year-old Land Speed Record of 600.601 mph. On 15 October 1970 Gabelich hit 609 mph on a new run, before a mechanical problem forced him to stop the second run. The same thing happened eight days later, when the first run reached 621 mph. Finally, on 23 October 1970, the Blue Flame driven by Gary Gablich averaged 617.602 mph on the first run and 627.207 on the second for a new Land Speed Record of 622.407 (1,001.67 km/h). This record was set over a measured mile at Bonneville Salt Flats, UT, it was the first record over 1000 km/h, it remained unbeaten until 1983, when Richard Noble broke it driving Thrust 2 at a speed of 633.468 mph (1019,469 km/h).

After setting the record, Reaction Dynamics Inc. stopped the Blue Flame activity and Gabelich came back to drag races. During his career he also drove go-karts and racing cars in circuit races, in 1969 Gabelich had driven the Beac City Chevrolet Corvette funny car to speed over 200 mph and in 1975 he finished 2nd at Riverside, California, in the Mickey Thompson’s off-road race. Then he scored a win in the Toyota Charity Slalom at the Rose Bowl in 1979 and the following year a second place in the Toyota Pro Challenge Race at the Michigan International Speedway. Unfortunately in 1972 he had his right hand severed in a drag racing accident. It was reattached, but his racing career was over. In 1977 Gabelich worked as an actor in Mel Welles' and Ronald C. Ross' movie "Joyride to nowhere". May we never forget the last American to ever hold the ALSR in his rocket car Blue Flame

Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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 Thanks to all LSR racers and viewers

I hope you enjoyed this thread on Gary Gabelich and the Blue Flame. I gathered all the in depth info and pictures on this historic car and driver. Again may we never forget his racing career and his historic American ALSR effort 622.407mph the last offical American ALSR 

Robin UK

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Gary with the man he took the record from


Blown Alcohol 57tbird

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Gary with the man he took the record from




Robin

That picture is "priceless" great photo of Gary and Craig two amazing record holders

Offline Jim Demmitt Jr

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Offline STUTZ

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Being a fellow Croatian myself probably makes me more prouder than any American would be with what Gary had acheived in life,albeit a short one. Gary Gabelic is also mentioned proudly in the Croatian American Archives as well as back home where he is listed as a hero and favorite son. This list is dated back to the 1400s to the present day.

Ray, if you're collecting, there is a spanish site www.interfilmes.com that sells a video of THE BLUE FLAME.



 :cheers:Ive.