On this day in auto history - September 29th

Wed 29th Sep 2021

It was on this day in 1952 that British racing hero John Cobb - the reigning Land Speed record holder - was tragically killed when attempting to break the world water speed record on Loch Ness.

The wealthy London fur broker became a household name in the UK for his speed exploits, most notably when becoming the first man in history to surpass 400mph on land en route to entering the record books in 1947 at Bonneville Flats, Utah.

Despite having never previously driven a racing boat at the age of 52, Cobb valiantly tried for the water speed record on Loch Ness in the powerful jet-powered ‘Crusader’ but was killed when his boat disintegrated after hitting three freak waves. His body was recovered but the Crusader’s remains were lost in one of the deepest parts of the Loch.

Though Cobb had become the fastest man ever on water when achieving an official speed of 206mph on his first run, the record could not be ratified because he didn’t complete his second run.

The fact that dramatic footage of Cobb’s record attempt and death were eerily captured on widely-watched British Pathe Newsreels only served to exacerbate the nation’s sense of loss at the time.