Thursday, January 19, 2017 by Keith
I'm finally posting photos from an epic lifetime event.
I was honored to be with Danny Thompson and his crew as Danny, the son of racing legend Mickey Thompson, crushed the national land speed record for a naturally aspirated fuel streamliner during Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah this past August. He did so much more than just drive an AA/FS vehicle faster than anyone before him. For Thompson, this record allowed him to fulfill a promise he had made with his famous speed-demon father, who was murdered in 1988.
To become a member of the famed Bonneville 400 miles per hour club a racer must complete a five-mile down run one day and a five-mile return run the next. The average speed of the two runs is used to calculate if a racer makes it into the exclusive club. Danny's record makes him the 12th racer to break 400 mph at the flats. He did it in Challenger 2, a car that was built by his father. The streamliner's aerodynamic body remained virtually unchanged from Mickey's original 1960s design, but Danny updated everything else.
The modern version of the car has dual dry block hemis, each generating around 2,500 horsepower at an 80-percent nitro load. Once his all volunteer crew changed the engines they had to upgrade the transmissions, rear ends, and the drivetrain to handle the additional power.
His father was the first American to top 400 miles per hour in 1960. His name still graces a line of high-end racing tires. Mickey's run time was 406.6 mph. He attempted to race a Challenger 2 before his death, but the car broke down on the return leg of the run. Micky and Danny were going to attempt a completed run at Bonneville together the year Mickey was killed. Danny was heartbroken and stored the Challenger for years, before he decided to work on it again. It took seven years, all of his money, and the support of his family and friends to get the Challenger 2 race-ready again. It’s a team of love and kindred friendships
I can still hear Danny saying that his Dad was with him, when he exited the car from his historic run, and kissed the salt. He did it Mickey !!!!!
In the end, Danny's speed was recorded at 406.767 miles per hour, beating his Dad's speed by a tenth of a second. There were many tears of happiness that day and it’s not over yet. He is bringing the Challenger 2 back for another go at it next August.
Go Danny !!!!