Ray Keech: First American over 200mph

Ray Keech: First American over 200mph

The Brits ruled the Daytona Beach Land Speed records: Seagrave and Campbell went back and forth going faster and faster, but one man broke their streak for a brief time, when board track and Daytona 500 racer Ray Keech went 207.55 mph on the beach April 22nd, 1928. The car he used was unusual, and brutal, to say the least.

The White Triplex was backed by wealthy industrialist J.H. White, and named in his honor. The Triplex moniker came from the triple 1649 c.i. WWI Liberty Aero L-12 (v12) motors displacing a whopping 81 liters combined. One gigantic Liberty motor sat in front of Keech and two more behind him, in a direct drive arrangement. The 36 cylinders combined allegedly produced 1500 horsepower and had the potential to go 220 mph if the feeble chassis and an extremely brave driver could tame it.

Keech managed to reach the speed needed to pull off the astonishing 200+ record, but only after being burned by both hot water and raw flames on his body. Frank Lockhart would die trying to go faster that weekend, and a year later the Brits took the record back on Daytona Beach when Seagrave piloted the Golden Arrow to over 231 mph. White asked to Keech to reclaim the record in the Triplex, which he less-than-politely declined, saying the car was too dangerous to drive for any amount of money. The next driver chose to drive the car had less experience than Keech. He rolled the car and died, killing a camera man and the Triplex its self in the process.



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