Thompson's life in the fast lane provides ample material for the filmmakers. From the drag strips, to desert racing to land speed record challenges, to car building, designing and race promotion Thompson earned his place as a certified automotive icon.
He started calling himself the Fastest American on Wheels in 1958 after setting a record of 194 miles per hour. His goal was to break the world record of 394.2 miles per hour set in 1947. He began to build a world land speed record car -- the Challenger 1.
Thompson took his new car out to the Bonneville Salt Flats on October 6, 1959 and piloted it to a World Speed Record of 363.48 miles per hour. He also set a world speed record in A/BFS Class that remained unbeaten until1990 when Al Teague broke it at 389.372 miles per hour in his streamliner.
In 1960, Thompson returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats with a modified Challenger 1 for another record attempt. Its four 410 cubic-inch engines secured his title when he set a new American record at 330.51 miles per hour. He bested the world speed with a run at 407 miles per hour (which was faster than any man had drive a car before) but crashed before he could make a second run and thus secure the official record.
The Challenger 1 had its last record run two year later on July 24, 1962. The poor conditions of the salt flats halted the first attempt because he couldnt get any traction as the car bounced on the salt bed. He found a smoother part of the Flats for another run and turned in a speed of 357 mph. But he announced that the Challengers days on the Salt Flats were over.
Experimental Corvette -- SS
General Motors recruited engineer and race car driver, Zora Arkus Duntov,
to help them inject some performance into their brands.
Duntov wanted to make the Corvette competitive with sports cars from Europe
like Ferrari and Maserati. To gain respect it needed to win on the track.
He organized a team to build the SS or "Experimental Corvette" and took it
GMs Parade of Progress -- Futurliners
Twelve Futurliners, along with 32 support vehicles, toured the country from
coast to coast in the 1940s and 50s taking the message of a wonderful
technological future to the hinterlands. Each Futurliner in this Parade of
Progress displayed modern advances in science, and technology such as jet
engines, stereophonic sound, microwave ovens, television, and many other
modern marvels. WWII halted the Parade but it resumed after the War.
Ironically, the audiences declined because of the competition from one of
its featured displays -- television. The Parade ended permanently in 1956.
Mickey Thompson: Fastest Man on Wheels
Mickey Thompson roared out of the hot rodding world of Southern California
to become the "Fastest Man on Wheels," when his Pontiac powered Challenger
One broke the 400 mph mark at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
This didn't become an official record because of difficulties he
encountered on a second run. The speed authorities require a second run
and take the average for the record books. This promotional film captures
the drama of his attempt.
Million Dollar Ferraris
Ferrari is the most fabled car maker in the world. It's one of the most
iconic brands and while expensive new the most expensive Ferraris are those
cars that have won races or earned a following because of their design or
rarity. Some Ferraris can demand over one million dollars at auction or if
they're sold privately.
Bonneville: The Great American Playground - The Downshift Episode 13
On this episode of The Downshift, we meet the original speed freaks! The
Bonneville Salt flats in Utah are the veritable Valhalla of land speed
racing. The world's fastest wheels have been competing here since the early
1900s, from Sir Malcolm Campbell's Blue Bird to today's fastest jet-powered
streamliners. What started as just a sport has evolved into a vibrant
culture anchored in history and a shared love for living life at the
The Downshift appears every Tuesday on the new Motor Trend channel.
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Speed Demon 426 mph Run - Cockpit View
The Speed Demon streamliner makes a 426 mph pass at Bonneville this week.
This video shows the cockpit view from just over driver George Poteet's
A compilation of historic wrecks...from 1931, to just the other day. You've
never seen anything like this before. Very rare footage. MUSIC by the HOT
To the men who paved the way in motorsports; to your bold attempts at
dodging fate: We salute you.
John Cobb and E.T. Eyston Racing at the Salt Flats
Film from Collection A0185 Joseph Howard McGibbeny Audio Visual Collection.
This film is titled "the Mormon Meteor does it's thing." The problem is
there is no Mormon Meteor in this film. This instead looks to be John R.
Cobb and Capt. George E.T. Eyston Racing their cars, the Railton and
Thunderbolt at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This item is protected by
copyright. For more information regarding this film, please contact the
Moving Image & Sound Archivist by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by
phone at 801-585-3073.
Speedweek 2008 the Burkland Streamliner
A closeup of the Burkland Streamliner. This car has run over 450 MPH one
way. It is powered by two aluminum Donovan 417 Aluminum Hemi Chrysler
Racing Engines on Methanol and Nitromethane.