Mickey Thompson Breaks 400 MPH Speed Barrirer
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
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
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.
Jungle Jim and Jungle Pam - Drag Racing Legends
Years before John Force arrived on the scene, drag racing's original
flamboyant showman was "Jungle Jim" Liberman; a larger-than-life individual
whose flaming burnouts, glib personality, and boundless energy helped
endear him to fans in a manner that eluded other drivers with better
Liberman was much more than a touring professional; with his wild
wheelstands, 100-mph backups from burnouts, stubborn refusal to lift on
even the most out-of-shape runs, and his curvaceous companion, "Jungle Pam"
Hardy, Liberman provided all the entertainment of a traveling circus.
Liberman's life, like the lives of many fast-living icons of youth such as
James Dean, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin, was as short as it was
fast-paced. He died at the age of 32 after suffering fatal injuries in a
head-on collision with a bus on Sept. 9, 1977. His premature passing left a
void in the sport that wasn't replaced until Force's explosive personality
emerged in the late 1980s.
Today, the legend of "Jungle Jim" lives on with "Jungle Pam," his constant
companion in his heyday who titillated race fans with her skimpy outfits
and provocative on-track actions.
"At every race track that I go to," said Hardy, "everyone comes up and asks
for my autograph. They ask what he was like and if he was as crazy as
they've heard. The fans really miss him, and they miss the fun part of drag
racing. The sport has become so professional now that there's no room for
any of that anymore."
"I was just 18 when I met him. I was still attending high school in West
Chester, Pa., and had never been further away from home than the next town
over. I was walking down the street one day, and here comes this yellow
Corvette speeding down the street. This guy walks out, comes up to me, and
says, "Hi, I'm Jim."
I had never been to a drag race before, but the next thing I knew, we
we're heading for his match race in Xenia, Ohio. He showed me how to back
him up after the burnouts, and from then on, my life was just a whirlwind
tour all over the country."
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song "American Girl" was released in 1977,
the same year Jungle Jim passed away.
Well she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn't help thinkin that there
Was a little more to life
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
Yeah, and if she had to die
Tryin' she had one little promise
She was gonna keep
Oh yeah, all right
Take it easy baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl
It was kind of cold that night
She stood alone on her balcony
She could hear the cars roll by
Out on 441
Like waves crashin' in the beach
And for one desperate moment there
He crept back in her memory
God it's so painful
Something that's so close
And still so far out of reach
Oh yeah, all right
Take it easy baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl
This video was created from clips from the Diamond P video "Fabulous
Floppers" and photos that I took of some of Jungle Jim's cars at 131
Dragway back in the '60s. The photos of Jungle Jim and Pam at 1:48, 1:53
and 1:59 are courtesy of Tom McCrea tmccrea. Photo at 2:36 is by Steve
Scott. Other pictures are from unknown photographers.
'69 Shelby Cobra GT 500
Sail down the coast with a '69 Shelby Cobra GT 500 full of passengers. A
shade of blue/green that is just mesmerizing to look at. Almost as perfect
as the day it was delivered, still has the "Starting Instructions" flyer on
the driver's sun visor and the addition of Carroll Shelby's signature on
the glovebox lid. A beautiful example of this quintessentially classic
From the owner:
Restored by Keith Craft in 2010. Repainted to its original color of
Gulfstream Aqua. It currently has about 55,000 miles on the ODO.
It has its original matching numbers 428 CJ engine and top loader 4-speed
transmission, and original interior (though the seats are in storage so
they don't get worn out).
At Mustang Northwest's 19th
Annual Mustang Roundup, the
car took 2nd place (was painted black at the time).
Won a silver medal in 2010 at Mid America Mustang Nationals.
More recently it was selected as one of the top 20 cars at the 2011 Shelby
Bash car show, placed third at the La Jolla Concours, and won second at the
2011 COCOA Concours de Nice (pronounced the "nice" not "niece").
To preserve the original engine, I had Keith Craft build a 427 side oiler
which is being installed this week. That should give the car quite a bit
more power, while allowing me to store the original engine for
8000 horses clearing their throat!!
NHRA National Time Trials Phoenix 1-28-07. Doug Kalitta warming up his Top
Fuel Nitromethan powered car at the Firebird raceway in Phoenix, AZ during
the National time trials. I had to go to get my fix of Nitro cars. Check
out the sound on this one, lol.
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.
1969 NHRA U.S. Nationals Tournament of Champions Part I - 1960s Vintage Drag Racing - Indy
Buy Drag Strip Riot Posters! http://www.maziracing.com/2004poster/index.htm
Vintage Drag Racing - Tournament of Champions Part I -Presented by Hurst
Performance Center - 1969 NHRA U.S. Nationals. Narrated by the late Steve
Evans. Qualifying and eliminations featuring Top Fuel Winner Don
Prudhomme, Runner-up Kelly Brown; Top Gas Winner Domenic Santucci,
Runner-up Phil Hobbs; Funny Car Winner Danny Ongais, Runner-up Rich
Siroonian; Super Eliminator Winner George Montgomery, Runner-up Ron Ellis;
Competition Eliminator Winner Terry Fritsch, Runner-up Neil Ellis; Street
Winner Glen Self; Runner-up Carroll Caudle; Super Stock Winner Ronnie Sox,
Runner-up Ron Mancini; Stock Winner Bill Morgan; Runner-up Tom Neja.
Nostalgia wheelstand, front engine dragsters, fuel altereds, Willys
gassers, engine explosion. Including, wheelstanding front engine
dragsters, Buster Couch, Willys Gassers, Fuel Altereds, Indianapolis
Raceway Park, Hemi Super Stock, Dick Bourgeois, Javelin Funny Car.
Drag Racing from the 60s.