Danny Thompson, son of racing legend Micky Thompson, crushed the national land speed record for a naturally aspirated fuel streamliner during Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah earlier this month. But he did so much more than just drive an AA/FS vehicle faster than anyone before him. For Thompson, this record connects him with his famous, speed-hungry 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 Micky’s original 1960s design, but Danny updated everything else.
“The modern iteration of the car has dual dry block Hemis, each generating around 2,500 horsepower at an 80-percent nitro load,” Danny wrote in a Reddit Ask Me Anything. “Once we changed the engines we 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. Micky’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 Micky was killed. A heartbroken Danny 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.
CNN wrote a moving account of Danny’s historic attempt. He told CNN that he could felt his dad was with him during the run. 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. Danny told CNN he’ll return to the Bonneville in September to race against another record-breaker, Speed Demon, for the world record. He thinks he can get Challenger 2 up to 450 or even 470 mph.
“I can’t quit. We call it salt fever. You just want to come back to Bonneville. You want to go faster.”
*Sourced via Autoblog