SWINDLER’S SALT (South Africa, 1928)


Emblematic of how pushed the competition had become, Malcolm Campbell engages on a journey into a chunk of real estate that was completely uninhabitable, but was the perfect backdrop to implement his vision. Using kaiser blades and machetes, B’wana Malcolm pushes through the thick brush of South Africa with his shark-shaped Bluebird II streamliner en tow, in search of a fabled chunk of salt known as the Verneuk Pan (loosely translated, “Swindler’s Salt”), all the while ignoring the fact that this is the habitat for puff adders and cannibals. The nearest source of water was five miles away – and it hasn’t rained in five years.

Drought, serpents and the headhunters are least of Campbell’s tribulations, however. Once the trail is blazed onto the Pan, the intrepid explorer discovers that the virginal “course” is fraught with shale that would shred Bluebird II’s Tulip tires to ticker tape. Rather than hightail it back to Daytona, Campbell orders his crew to remove 12 miles of shale and lay down some white line. They do… only to witness the fruits of their labor completely torn asunder by a ferocious turdfloater of a storm.

Meanwhile, back in the Western World, Henry Segrave is lighting up the timers at Daytona, streaking to a 2-way average of 231 mph in his Golden Arrow (powered by a Napier Lion seaplane engine) as Campbell and his minions hike back out of the jungle with the bitter memories of a disheartening ordeal in their wake. Ultimately, the Napier aircraft-engined Bluebird hits 200 mph at the Pan, but for all practical purposes Campbell’s campaign has been mau-maued by the uninhabitability of the “Swindler’s Salt.” It’s time to get back to the beach.


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