Bonhams To Sell The Sir Henry Segrave Collection – the first man to drive faster than 200mph

. March 22, 2007

Sir Henry Segrave, who was knighted for his record-breaking achievements on land and water, was the first human to exceed 200mph on land. During his tragically short life, he smashed both the World Land Speed Record (no fewer than three times) and the World Water Speed Record. He was the first to hold both land and water speed records simultaneously.

Now his highly personal collection of annotated scrapbooks, photograph albums, movie film footage and trophies, documenting his extraordinary career is to be offered by Bonhams directly from the Segrave family who have preserved it for over 70 years. The Collection will be sold at the annual Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale on 22 June 2007.

Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave (1896 – 1930), the ultimate record-breaker, was also the greatest British racing driver of the 1920s and was the first and last British winner of a premier-league Continental Grand Prix race for 34 years.

Items in this wonderful collection include:

The Golden Arrow World’s Record 1929 photograph album, presented to Major H.O.D Segrave by R.H Lesesne official photographer, The Automobile Association of America, The City of Daytona Beach and the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Estimate £800-1,200

Captain H.O.D Segrave’s ‘Air Ministry Aeroplanes’ Volumes I & II, 26th March 1918, Volume I signed, both containing monochrome images and hand annotated.
Estimate £1,500-2,500

Sir Henry Segraves personal albums, each containing hand annotated media covered accounts of a lifetime devoted to cars, aeroplanes and land speed attempts. (6)
Estimate £2,000-4,000

A black box containing Segrave footage, another containing 1923 Grand Prix footage and another, Covering 1927 and 1929 Land Speed Records, Miss England USA, Yachts and Miss England, personal family footage and various cars and aeroplanes.
Estimate £2,000-4,000

The Automobile Club Du Nord De La France Trophy, Presented to Segrave for covering 6 Kilometres at an average speed of 140.640MPH at the Boulogne Speed Trials Aug 26th, 1926 – the fastest speed ever recorded on a road.
Estimate £1,800-2,200

The Internationale Fruhjahrs-Regatta Trophy, 1929, (fastest Boat Trophy)
Estimate £1,500-2,500

The Junior Car Club 200 Mile race Trophy, Brooklands 1921. (leader at the end of the 37th lap)
Estimate £400-600

The Essex Motor Car Club Championship of Great Britain (Winners Trophy) Brooklands, September 1922,
Estimate £600-800

The Midland Automobile Club Hill Climb, Shelsley Walsh, Fastest Time Trophy, 23rd May 1925.
Estimate £400-600

The RAC Grand Prix Trophy, (Fastest Lap) Brooklands, 1926.
Estimate £800-1,200 The JCC 200 Mile race winners trophy, Brooklands, October 22nd 1921, (Talbot Darracq No. 33)
Estimate £800-1,200

The Midland Automobile Club Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb Fastest Time Trophy, May 23rd 1925, (Sunbeam)
Estimate £800-1,200

The JCC 200 Mile Race 1st place Trophy, Sept 26th 1925, (Darracq Special)
Estimate £1,000-1,500

A rare tinplate Alfa Romeo PII model car by Bondis
Estimate £1,800-2,200

A British national, Henry Segrave was born in Baltimore, USA, to an Irish father and American mother, and raised in Ireland. He left Eton for Sandhurst in 1914, served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps and was seriously wounded twice.

His interest in motor racing had been kindled by wartime visits to the American speedway at Sheepshead Bay, Long Island. When peace returned he promptly bought a 1914 Grand Prix Opel and in 1920 won three races with it at Brooklands.

He became a successful professional driver for the Sunbeam factory team, and in 1923 the all-British combination of Segrave and Sunbeam won the most important race of the year – the French Grand Prix at Tours. In 1924 he won the less significant San Sebastian Grand Prix – in which he pioneered use of a hard crash helmet!

In 1926 he launched his World Speed record-breaking career, driving a 4-litre V12-engined Sunbeam, at 152.33mph on Southport Sands in Lancashire. Vying with Malcolm Campbell for Land Speed Record honours, Segrave then aimed at 200mph – taking the twin-engined 1000hp Sunbeam ‘Slug’ to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1927 and taking the record at 203.79mph. While there he bought two racing motor boats, kindling his interest in speed on water.

Back at Daytona in 1929 in the gorgeous new Irving-Napier ‘Golden Arrow’, Segrave, after just one practice run, raised the WLSR to 231.36mph. In his latest power boat ‘Miss England’ he also won the International Championship at Miami, and upon his return home was knighted for his achievements.

On Friday, 13th June, 1930 he drove his boat ‘Miss England II’ at Lake Windermere to a new World Water Speed Record of 98.76mph. But unaware of his success, he was fatally injured after an accident on the return run, which also claimed the life of one of his two riding mechanics, Vic Halliwell. The nation mourned the loss of its first motor racing knight.

James Knight, Managing Director of Bonhams’ Motoring Department worldwide says: “Sir Henry Segrave’s name electrified an entire generation of motoring minded enthusiasts during the 1920s and ’30s. He became one of the earliest members of the exclusive British Racing Drivers Club and was described by his friend ‘Sammy’ Davis in the Club’s Silver Jubilee book as having been ‘one of the few who could say exactly the right thing in exactly the right way before an audience of any nationality, so making innumerable friends all over the world…’. He was universally liked and admired for his personality, his skill and self-evident courage, and his early death was a national disaster.

“We at Bonhams regard it as a great privilege to have been selected to present his personal collection of memorabilia for sale by auction. And there can be no finer venue at which to offer the Segrave Collection than the Goodwood Festival of Speed…”

Category: Auction News

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