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J. M. White’s Triplex – Record Setting LSR Monster

A few weeks ago we did a post on Frank Lockhart and his two attempts at the LSR at Daytona, the second one which ended his life was on April 25, 1928. Only two days before, Ray Keech set a new record of 207.55 mph, to sur-pass Donald Campbell’s 206.95 mph effort.

We have been studying these press photos for quite some time of the car Keech bravely drove to the record, as they are the best photos to be seen yet of its construction. The car was built by J.W. White, seen in the photo above, dated Nov. 26, 1927. He was a wire manufacturing magnate who took the brute force approach in his quest to win back the record for America from Campbell of the UK.

He bought three surplus Liberty v-12 engines and rebuilt them for the Trip-lex. The frame of the behemoth seen above and below, appears to be have been built out of simple light weight channel iron, that may have possibly been recycled, as there are many extra holes in it to be seen below the steer-ing box. In the front we have determined that he grafted on Model 48 Loco-mobile front frame horns and used a Loco front axle which is turned upside down. It is believed that he may have also used parts of a Loco rear axle as the rear brake bands for the external contracting brakes also appear to be from the same maker.

The rear axle of which we have never seen any photos, contained three ring and pinion gears with driveshafts connected to them from each engine. The monster had no clutches, transmissions or a differential and was started by pushing it. Most of car appears to have been built on the cheap, reusing old components and materials and it also seems to have been built in a hurry.

The press photo below taken in Philadelphia, is dated Feb. 7, 1928, and states that the car was to be shipped to Daytona that day. Keech is standing on the right hand side in a stained sweater and tie, with White just behind him.

Below is another photo showing the rear of the car, evidently while under construction, as the center driveshaft can be seen with two open support bearings. The driveshafts for the side engines, appear to be contained in rigid housings, which are between the engines and the rear axle. The center photo below shows Keech in 1928 on the beach in Daytona. The third photo shows Lee Bible who drove the car for White in 1929, just before he died in his attempt to raise the record. Also seen in the photo is Henry Segrave, who had raised the record to 231.45 on March 11, 1929, in his famous Golden Arrow which survives. You can find a fairly accurate account of the whole White Triplex story and its runs here. 


Photo below from the Motor Age Magazine which shows the crude reversing gear fitted to the car. It was installed to comply with the AAA regulations that the car must have a reversing gear. It was reported to be driven by an extra driveshaft of some sort.

5 responses to “J. M. White’s Triplex – Record Setting LSR Monster

  1. I never knew that car was built in Philadelphia, very interesting photos. It sure would be fun to walk through all the speed shops in that city in the 1920’s, lots of MILLER INDY cars called Philly home.

  2. Great story! I’d never heard of the car before. It would be very interesting to know what kind of pressure there was to complete the car in a hurry and of that’s what prompted the recycling of parts.

    I’m a salt flats racer myself and run the website for the car that (God willing) will be the first piston-engined, wheel driven car to set a record over 500 mph. The car’s been in development for 14 years and will finally get its shakedown runs this fall. for details.

    I also covered the restoration of Athol Graham’s “City of Salt Lake” streamliner in which Graham was killed in 1959. It’s been rebuilt by his son and displayed on the salt for the last couple of years. The Allison motor is just about rebuilt to make it a complete resto job:

    Thank you for a great story…even if the result wasn’t too happy. It’s a great piece of history.

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