Fast father, fast son.
Danny Thompson, son of American racing legend Mickey Thompson, has set a land speed record at age 66. And it was a long time coming.
In 1960, Mickey hit Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in a streamlined car called Challenger that was built to set a land-speed record. And it did. Sort of.
He made a single 406.6 mph pass, becoming the first American to break the 400 mph barrier. However, official speed records require two consecutive runs, one in each direction, and mechanical issues prevent him from making the second attempt.
Mickey returned in 1968 with a new car dubbed Challenger 2, but the event was cancelled due to bad weather and the car was eventually mothballed as he focused on other racing and business pursuits.
But about twenty years later, the bug bit again, and he and Danny hatched a plan to update the car and go for a record again, this time in the Southern California Timing Association’s naturally-aspirated, piston-powered, wheel-driven class. Tragically, before they could, Mickey and his wife were gunned down in what authorities later discovered was a hit put on Thompson by a former business associate, and the dream died with them in 1988.
At least it seemed like it did. A few years ago, Danny decided to finish the family business once and for all. So he dug the car out of storage, put in a pair of nitro-burning Hemi V8 engines with a total of 4,000 horsepower and an all-wheel-drive system, and went back to Bonneville Speed Week in 2014.
After nearly crashing when the fire suppression system went off as he pulled the chutes at the end of a 390 mph run, he followed with a blistering 419 mph pass the next day. Unfortunately, Thompson history repeated itself when a busted clutch kept him from making the required second run, and the event was cancelled in 2015 due to poor surface conditions.
This year, everything went off without a hitch, and on Saturday, Aug 13th, Danny put in a problem-free 411.191 mph run, setting him up to break the record on Sunday. He did just that, crossing the timing lights at 402.348 mph to give him an average speed of 406.7 mph, clobbering the current class record of 392.5 mph.
But while the 406.7 mph result seems a fitting tribute to his dad’s 406.6 mph, Danny’s not done yet. His son Travis tells Fox News that he’ll be back in September to go for the international FIA class record of 414 mph, with an eye on the overall wheel-driven mark of 439 mph.
It’ll be no easier feat, as the FIA only allows one hour between runs, and Thompson is wasting no time preparing for it: