March 3, 2008

March 3 | John Parry-Thomas

April 6, 1884 – March 3, 1927: Age 42

Parry-Thomas was a Welsh engineer who designed cars for Leyland Motors, but gave up his job in the late 1910s to pursue professional racing. He was killed in 1927 trying to break the land speed record. His car had an exposed chain connecting the engine to the right hand drive wheel, and the height of the engine meant he had to drive with his head tilted out to the right side in order to see. On his final run, at a speed of 170mph, the drive chain broke, nearly decapitating him. The car skidded and rolled and then began to burn. Two of his crew were able to get his corpse out of the car before the fire reached it, but had to break its legs to do so.

Parry-Thomas was buried in the conventional manner, but his beloved car, Babs, was rather unconventionally buried in a big hole on the beach on which he was racing. Forty years later the car was excavated and restored, and here is a picture of it.

Sources: Wikipedia, John Godfrey Parry Thomas

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