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.
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.
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
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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Trevor Slaughter land speed record attempt, Weekend Today, 19 Jan 2013
To break Donald Campbell's long standing Australian Record of 403.10mph
(648.73kph) and achieve the world record of over 458mph (737kph) at the
Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA, Trevor's Land Speed Streamliner will be
fitted with unique Mickey Thompson Bonneville LSR (Land Speed Record)
Burt Munro's 1920 Indian Scout
This is the 1920 Indian Scout built and driven by Burt Munro. Jay Leno on
commentary. Three times during the '60's it set the World's fastest flying
mile record for motorcycles under 1000cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
This is not the reproduction used in the "The World's Fastest Indian"
starring Anthony Hopkins, but the actual bike that set the record.
Fortunately this is the second year of the Concours d'Elegance to feature
motorcycles on the green. This year they featured the salt flat racers and
their contribution to Hot Rodding. I was very lucky to see and hear this
amazing piece of history.
For more information about Burt Munro, visit
Or buy "The World's Fastest Indian" because it's a true story. It's one of
my favorites, and surely will not disappoint any gear head. Anthony's
perfectly cast for the role.
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.