George Eyston (1897 - 1979)

George Eyston
George Eyston

George Eyston was educated at Stonyhurst College and Trinity College, Cambridge. His study of engineering at Cambridge was interrupted by World War I when he was commissioned in the Dorset Regiment and later served in the Royal Field Artillery. After the war he returned to Trinity College and was captain of the First Trinity Boat Club.

Eyston’s racing career began before World War One, when he was still a schoolboy, and raced motorcycles under an assumed name. After the war he entered European road races, particularly in Bugattis, with success in races such as the 1921 and 1926 French Grand Prix. Later he became well known for racing supercharged MGs such as the Magic Midget and the K3 Magnette

He moved on to record breaking by fitting a diesel engine from an AEC bus into a car built on a Chrysler chassis and used it to set high-speed endurance records at Brooklands, attaining 100.75 mph in 1933 and 106 mph in 1936.

George Eyston - fastest on earth
George Eyston – fastest on earth

In 1935, he was one of the first British racers to travel to the Bonneville salt flats of Utah, with his 24- and 48-hour record-setting car Speed of the Wind. He is best known today for land speed records set in his car Thunderbolt. Between 1937 and 1939 he set three new land speed records, wresting them from Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird, but was twice bettered by John Cobb. The rivalry was friendly, and in later years Eyston, as competitions manager for Castrol, assisted with Cobb’s ill-fated attempt on the water speed record in Crusader. He was also involved in the design of his Thunderbolt car at the Bean Cars factory in Tipton, Staffordshire (now West Midlands).

© Steve Holter