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.
Hemi Under Glass Last Ride
After 39 years at the wheel of one of the most famous and unusual cars in
drag racing, the Hemi Under Glass, Bob Riggle decided to hang it up.
We were there to capture the last runs of this iconic car and the driver
who thrilled crowds at drag strips all over the country.
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.
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
Thrust SSC -over the sound barrier !
October 1997, UK managed to break the sound barrier on earth, using the
fantastic Thrust SSC vehicule. I made this video because there was too few
videos about this remarkable event on the web. (music credits: Spa 24 hours
- Stephen Baysted)
Chasing a Landspeed Record at Bonneville with a 1100hp Camaro! - Roadkill Ep. 20
On this episode of Roadkill, Finnegan builds an 1,100-horsepower big-block and
Freiburger brings a Camaro that he's run 261 mph at
the Bonneville Salt Flats. Put 'em together and it's a recipe for win,
right? If you think so, you're probably not a Roadkill regular. It turns
into an entire adventure just getting there, and gets more interesting from
Roadkill appears every fourth Friday on the Motor Trend channel.
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Bonneville August 2013
In 1912 people begun using the Bonneville Salt Flats to race vehicles to
set land speed records. today there are multiple public and private land
speed events held on the "flats" or the "salt." Bonneville has become known
worldwide as the mecca for land speed racing. This video covers some of
this year's event which was in August.
Supercar Hits 714mph
Powered by two Phantom II jet fighter engines, the Thrust SSC hits 714mph
(1149km/h) in the Black Rock Desert in 1997.
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Check out some of our more intense video's including high speed chases and
a Spectacular 100mph train crash in this new playlist:
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.