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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
OLDSMOBILE 455 W-43 EXPERIMENTAL HEMI AND OTHER EXOTIC ENGINES - THE JOHN BELTZ YEARS PHOTO TRIBUTE
John Beltz was Oldsmobile's chief engineer in 1964 and one of the prime
movers of the Toronado and 442 project. Beltz was promoted to Oldsmobile
general manager at age 43 in 1969 when Harold N. Metzel retired. Beltz
passed away in May of 1972 from cancer at the age of 46.
John Beltz is leaning on a dual fan 455 Olds and posing with other
experimental Olds engines that never saw production.
Here are descriptions of these engines:
1. The 0W-43 all aluminum 455 with 4 valve per cylinders, four overhead cam
Weber engine. With a redline of just under 8,500rpm it was originally
conceived for CAN AM racing. At 3,000rpm it put out 300hp and at 6,000rpm
registered over 600hp. The top output recorded for this engine in the
Lansing Dyno facility
was 700 real hp at 6,800rpm. Tests were run with both carbueration and fuel
injection. The block was cast from Reynolds 356 alloy and fitted with
pressed-in dry steel cylinder liners for the Forged-True 12.20to 1 pistons.
Billet steel connecting rods by Carillo was used along with a forged steel
crank. The engine weighed in at 50 pounds lighter than the production 455
motor! It was developed at the same time as the ZL-1 Chevy 427 motor.
2. The W-43 4 valve per cylinder 455 developed by JOHN BELTZ , LLOYD GILL ,
JOE JONES AND FRANK BALL. Rated at 500-550hp with a single Rochester
Quadrajet on an aluminum manifold. Constructed with both cast iron heads
and block and with aluminum-alloy block and heads 75 pounds lighter than
the conventional 455 production engine. Engine featured four valves per
cylinder with narrowed angles for a super efficient combustion chamber
design, central spark plugs and could easily be adapted for chain for gear
driven overhead camshafts. 455 engine had 4.625inch cylinder centers, a
4.125 bore and 4.250 stroke. Making use of the 3inch main bearings and 2.50
inch rod journals, the engine was fitted with a specially prepared cast
crank fitted with SAE-1140 forged steel rods, forged 10.20-to-1 pistons
which rode on Morraine 400 bearings. Four bolt main block boasted 2
additional 5/8inch drain holes. Four valve heads featured 1.750inch intake
valves (SAE-8640 steel) with 22 degree stems and 1.375 Exhaust (214-N stainless steel) with 15 degree
stems, special Stellite seats, bronze alloy guides, o ring plug tubes, 14mm
spark plugs, 3/8 inch pushrods and aluminum rocker arms. (Of all the
experimental Olds engines, this one came the closest to production and
there are photos of this engine in street gear. MAY 71 HOT ROD MAGAZINE
features some of these engines and the sadness of the Olds engineers of
that time of how they would never be released.)
3. 455 dual turbocharged CAN AM ROCKET
CHALLENGE. 659hp @ 6250rpm. 554lbs torque @ 6,250 rpm. Alloy block with 4
bolt mains. Forged steel crankshaft. Forged True pistons with 8.5 to 1
compression. 3inch main journals. 2.499inch rod journals. Carillo billet
steel rods. alloy heads. 2inch intake valves. 1.625inch Exhaust valves. Crower roller camshaft with
555inch lift and 320 degrees duration. Dual TRW-375-E-10 turbochargers with Boost Wastegate 10and 1/2psi. Lucas fuel
injection. Olds alloy intake.
Competed with big block Chevy Mclarens and Porsche Panzers in CAN AM racing
This video is merely a couple of old magazine pages strung together with
the exception of that blue 455 hemi which was found on the internet. Thats
BRUCE MCLAREN in that green can am race car which is Olds powered. AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE VIDEO JOHN BELTZ IS POSING WITH SOME ENGINES FEATURED IN
THE JULY 1969 ISSUE OF HOT ROD MAGAZINE AND THE BLUE OLDSMOBILE 455 HEMI
WAS FEATURED IN THE MAY 1971 ISSUE OF HOT ROD MAGAZINE. The incidental
music I overlayed onto this video was muted by youtube.
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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