The Story of Silver Wings

Page 5

He had obtained the Chrysler from the legendary record breaking Australian driver, Norman "Wizard" Smith who had covered over 20,000 competition miles in the car. Wizard Smith made record-breaking a way of life. Gifted with great endurance and a feel for the mechanics of a car, he broke more distance speed records than anyone else in Australia. It was said that he could travel for days with only a couple of hours sleep.

Wizard Smith began his winning ways with the car when he was successful in the Australian 10 day Reliability Test which was run from Sydney up to Coolangatta and then back to Sydney on October 28, 1926. His next target was the Sydney-Brisbane record which he lowered in the Chrysler on December 9. He lowered the distance by 1 hour 16 minutes, driving the 643 miles in 16 hours and five minutes at an average speed of 40 miles per hour. it was said at the time that "he beat the Brisbane to Sydney express train by a margin big enough to make the express look like a goods train." Many of his efforts across Australia had been sponsored by the vehicle importers and the Vacuum Oil Company.

On December 22, 1926 he took the Chrysler to Maroubra Speedway in Sydney. On the short Maroubra banked track he averaged speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. All through the night local residents complained of the noise of Smith racing around the track. Although frequently having to change tyres because of the abrasive concrete surface, he still broke the existing 24 hour record with more than an hour to spare. Wizard Smith had averaged 65 miles per hour for the first 14 hours and then 61.1 miles for the whole 24 hours. The car covered 1000 miles in just under 16 hours and 1468 miles in 24 hours. He was assisted by mechanic C. Trollope and assistant driver Otto James and his mechanic E. Poole.

New Zealand awaited Wizard and his Chrysler. On January 11, 1927, he took 1 hour and 15 minutes off the Auckland to Wellington record. After a few days rest and recreation, he took on the Christchurch to Bluff record. Covering 402 miles in 8 hours and 50 minutes he smashed this record and the Christchurch - Invercargill record along the way.

According to New Zealand Motor Life: "A spectacular feature of this last run was that the car made a 39 feet jump across the Selwyn River at 60 miles per hour from a hastily thrown up shingle ramp."

Smith's drive was the last officially sanctioned intercity record breaking drive in New Zealand. The Government had become uncomfortable with the risks associated with record breaking and called a halt to further attempts.

Wizard Smith would later build two cars to take the world land speed record. One was called the ANZAC after the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in World War One. He never captured the main title but succeeded in securing the 10 mile world record.

This was the age of record-breaking motoring stunts. An American record breaking run earlier in the year also used a Chrysler. A Chrysler Imperial 80 phaeton was driven from San Francisco to New York and then back to Los Angeles in 1927 and covered 6,720 miles in 168 hours at an average 40 miles per hour.

During 1928, road racing records around Australia were being broken regularly by Vauxhalls, Studebakers and Chryslers.

Driving a Chrysler, H. Clutterbuck and J M Thompson bettered the Fremantle to Adelaide record of three days 13 hours and three minutes by setting a time of three days and 42 minutes on 21 December 1927.

The record breaking Chrysler was then used to set a new Sydney to Melbourne record of 11 hours and 14 minutes. The drive by Mr H J Beith and Mr C Trollope took them from Sydney through Yass, Gundagai, Albury, Benalla and Seymour before arriving in Melbourne.

In January 1928, they broke the record for the 570 mile journey again, taking it down to 10 hours and 42 minutes - an average of 54 miles per hour. The two driver took nine minutes off the record set by a Hudson one week before.





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