Land vehicle speed records
In 1962, he made his first attempt, in a freewheeling tricycle (ignoring FIA rules requiring four wheels, at least two driven; in the event, FIM happily accepted it) powered by a General Electric J47 turbojet engine. On August 5, 1963, this first Spirit made her first record attempt, using just 90% of available thrust to reach 388.47 mph (625.18 km/h) over the measured mile. The return pass, on 95% power, turned up a two-way average of 407.45 mph (655.73 km/h). Spirit of America was so light on the ground, she did not even need to change tires afterward.
For 1964, Breedlove faced competition from Walt Arfons' (piloted by Tom Green), as well as from brother Art in his four-wheel, FIA-legal Green Monster. With more engine power, Breedlove upped the record to 468.72 mph (754.33 km/h) "[w]ith almost insolent ease", then to 526.28 mph (846.97 km/h), making him the first man to exceed 500 mph (800 km/h). This pass was not without incident, however, for one of his drogue parachute's shroud lines parted, and Spirit of America ran on for 5 mi (8.0 km) before hitting a telegraph pole and coming to rest in a lake. This record stood all of twelve days before Green Monster broke it, recording a two-run average of 536.71 mph (863.75 km/h).
In response, Breedlove built an FIA-legal four-wheeler, Sonic I, powered by a 15,000 lbf (67 kN) J79 turbojet. November 2, 1965, Breedlove entered the FIA record book with a two-run average of 555.483 mph (893.963 km/h). This lasted even less time than before, for Green Monster came back five days later at 576.553 mph (927.872 km/h). On November 15, Breedlove responded with a 600.601 mph (966.574 km/h) record (after turning in an amazing 608.201 mph (978.805 km/h) return pass), which held until 1970. (It would be broken by Gary Gabelich's Blue Flame, which reached 630.388 mph (1,014.511 km/h).) To take the record back, Breedlove planned a supersonic rocket car, "complete with ejector seat." Also in 1965, Breedlove's wife, Lee Breedlove, took the seat in Sonic 1, making four passes and achieving 308.506 mph (496.492 km/h), making her the fastest woman alive, and making them the fastest couple, which they remain. According to author Rachel Kushner, Craig had talked Lee into taking the car out for a record attempt in order to monopolize the salt flats for the day and block one of his competitors from making a record attempt.
During 1968, Lynn Garrison, President of Craig Breedlove & Associates, started to package a deal that saw Utah's Governor, Calvin Rampton, provide a hangar facility for the construction of a supersonic car. Bill Lear, of Learjet fame, was to provide support, along with his friend Art Linkletter. Playboy magazine hoped to have the car painted black, with a white bunny on the rudder. TRW was supplying a lunar lander rocket motor. A change in public interest saw the concept shelved for a period of time.
Lynn Garrison, as President of Craig Breedlove & Associates, obtained permission to use Bluebird on the Utah Salt Flats. This model was used in publicity
They also negotiated for the use of the late Donald Campbell's wheel-driven Bluebird CN7 record-breaker.
After a lengthy break from world records and making his name as a real estate agent, Breedlove began work on a new Spirit in 1992, eventually named Spirit of America Formula Shell LSRV. The vehicle is 44 ft. 10 in. long, 8 ft. 4 in. wide, and 5 ft. 10 in. high (13.67 m by 2.54 m by 1.78 m) and weighs 9,000 lb (4,100 kg), construction is on a steel tube or space frame with an aluminium skin body. The engine is the same as in the second Spirit, a J79, but it is modified to burn unleaded gasoline and generates a maximum thrust of 22,650 lbf (100.75 kN).
The second run of the vehicle on October 28, 1996, in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, ended in a crash at around 675 mph (1,086 km/h). Returning in 1997, the vehicle badly damaged the engine on an early run and when the British ThrustSSC managed over 700 mph (1,100 km/h), the re-engined Spirit could do no better than 676 mph (1,088 km/h). Breedlove believes the vehicle is capable of exceeding 800 mph (1,300 km/h), but has yet to demonstrate this.
In late 2006, Breedlove sold the car to Steve Fossett, who was to make an attempt on the land speed record in 2007. Fossett died in a plane crash in 2007, and the car was put up for sale. Breedlove's vehicle, renamed the "Sonic Arrow", was rolled out on the Black Rock Desert for a photo opportunity on October 15, 2007. The effort to run the car continues.