I was recently reading an article by The New York Times written in 19o4… There was a debate in Paris between a brain specialist and a physician about the dangers of driving automobiles at high speeds. Reading on, I was wondering what was “high speed” in 1904, and what could be so dangerous to the brain? Crashing was my thought.
Lack of brain speed
Their argument was simple. “The brain can’t keep up.” They stated that, “It remains to be proven how fast the brain is capable of traveling.” “If it cannot acquire an eight-mile per hour speed, then an auto running at the rate of 80 miles per hour is running without the guidance of the brain and the many disastrous results are not to be marveled at.”
Little did they know in Paris that a land speed record was already over 80 MPH. Seems in 1903 Belgium was the home of high speed cars . There was an American driver who set that record and there were no reports of brain loss, but looking at the cars of those years you can’t help but wonder if he had one to lose.
Reference and image source; New Atlas
July 17, 1903 | Ostende, Belgium| First car over 80 mph
American, Arthur Duray, was the first man to drive at more than 80 miles per hour, when the veteran professional driver covered the flying kilometer in 26.8 seconds at Ostende, Belgium on 17 July 1903
Here’s another interesting tidbit from New Atlas
AEG Electric Railcar | 130.7 mph (210.3 km/h)
October 28, 1903 | Marienfelde, Germany | Outright land speed record
With the car speed record fast closing on the steam train’s speed record, the next contender came from left field, as experimentation with the electric train pushed the world land speed record out of reach of the automobile once more.
A 23 km section of electric rail infrastructure was created from a former military railway by the German Society for the Study of Electrical Rapid Transit, a consortium led by General Electric, Siemens & Halske, the industrial giant Krupp and several major German banks.
The test track played host to two competing electric drive systems for the 50-person trolley cars that were constructed – one railcar was fitted with three-phase AC electrical equipment supplied by AEG and the other with similar equipment supplied by Siemens & Halske. Both vehicles exceeded 124 mph (200 km/h), with the Siemens & Halske railcar setting an initial record of 126 mph (203 km/h) and eventually reaching 128 mph (206 km/h). On 28 October 1903, the AEG railcar was timed at 130.7 mph (210.3 km/h), a new absolute land speed record.