Matt Greenop: When a record isn't really a record...

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Eddie Freeman breaks the NZ Land Speed Record in his modified Lamborghini at Ohakea Air Force Base - or did he? Photo / Justine Kennedy,
Eddie Freeman breaks the NZ Land Speed Record in his modified Lamborghini at Ohakea Air Force Base - or did he? Photo / Justine Kennedy,

Speed freaks have been gnashing their teeth this week, following the land speed record attempt made by Auckland businessman Eddie Freeman last weekend.

Freeman, who featured on the cover of Wednesday's Driven in his Lamborghini Gallardo, was under the impression that he'd set the outright New Zealand Land Speed Record, as we were. But as the attempt, which took place at Ohakea Air Force base, only set a flying kilometre record, and not a mile, Freeman's 355.485km/h speed is not the record.

Enter the wonderful world of motorsport politics.

Owen Evans, one of the most committed people in New Zealand motorsport, father of current GP3 world champion Mitch, is the current record holder - he possesses the Castrol Trophy, which is a replica of the Sir Charles Wakefield Trophy from the 1930s. The trophy is for the flying mile, and Owen's 348.23km/h set on a dicey closed road in Reparoa in 1996 remains the New Zealand Land Speed Record, despite Freeman's faster speed set in the flying kilometre.

It's hard to know how to feel about this situation, as Freeman's attempt is impressive, and faster than the existing record, but Owen's run was on a public road, and presented a far bigger challenge and risk.

This was underlined by Owen's horror crash that, frankly, he was bloody lucky to walk away from. Whether you're running at 300km/h-plus on the road or on an airfield, the risk to life and limb is sizable. Either way, both these men, and the high speed heroes that came before them deserve a huge amount of respect from all of us, whether there's a trophy attached or not, both have put time, money and effort into stretching the boundaries of motoring sanity, and you've got to love that.

On ya guys, and here's hoping this high-speed set to doesn't have the highly undesirable effect of sucking the spirit out of the sport.

- NZ Herald

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