Racer Sig Haugdahl – later an IMCA champion in 1927 and early promoter of stock car racing – drove the 13.8-liter aero-engine powered Wisconsin Special over 180.27 mph. This was a new land speed record on a one-way run at the Daytona Beach racing oval.
Haugdahl began dirt track racing in 1918, eventually becoming IMCA champion six years in a row (1927-1932). He built the Wisconsin Special to unseat the AAA Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, Tommy Milton. Milton would become the first two-time winner of the Indy 500 the following year.
Haugdahl’s speed was remarkably 24mph faster than the previous world land speed record. Remarkably, Haugdahl’s team figured out how to retain more power to the rear wheels by making the racecar a direct drive system from the engine to the rear axle. There was no clutch or transmission to speak of. The car was named after its 836 cubic inch Wisconsin Airplane 6-cylinder motor, was 192 inches long, 20 inches wide, and had 250 horsepower.
The team also employed a new method of aerodynamics by taping the body to reduce drag. Haugdahl is also credited with being the first racer to balance the wheels and tires on his race car. Haugdahl was also the first to travel three miles in a minute. His record, however, was never observed by the AAA governing body as none of its members were present to witness the event.
Incredibly, Haugdahl’s unofficial record would go untouched for over a decade. Sig Haugdahl died at 79 years of age in Jacksonville, Florida. He was inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1994.