Breedlove Sues Chicago Museum of Science and Industry


Bonneville Salt Flats

There's no denying that as long as we've had the automobile, we've had racing and records to beat. No name is better known in the record-breaking category for cars than Craig Breedlove, the American professional racecar driver and five-time world land speed record holder. You may have the need for speed, but that's nothing to what Craig has accomplished in his lifetime. He was the first driver in history to reach 500mph on land at the Bonneville Salt Flats; and later the first to reach 600mph. Every vehicle he drove to hit these incredible speeds were named Spirit of America, staying true to the heart of American ingenuity.

In 1965, after breaking the 500mph record, Breedlove donated that iteration of Spirit of America to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. The legendary vehicle remained in their care until 2015 when it was returned to the driver by the museum. Well the car that Breedlove loaned and the one he was returned were in incredibly different conditions. According to their agreement, the car would be returned at Craig's request whenever he liked, and the museum was responsible for keeping it protected from damage and theft.

A lawsuit has recently been filed by Breedlove against the museum for the condition of the car. In the suit the damage is clearly outlined, including the stripping of the aluminum skin which reveals a frame etched with graffiti, cut, and re-welded. According to Breedlove, the damage renders the car "in a sense irreparable because the vehicle will no longer be in its original condition." Breedlove seeks $395,000 for consequential and incidental damages, exemplary and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and expenses.

According to a spokeswoman for the museum, "the museum goes to great lengths to take expert care of all of the artifacts in our collections and we are confident that this situation can and will be resolved satisfactorily."

It is a pity that such an iconic vehicle can no longer live up to its former glory. Hopefully for speed fans everywhere, including Mr. Breedlove, the vehicle can be at least partially restored and enjoyed by generations to come.

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