Photos by Holly Martin
Mickey Thompson’s 1968 Challenger II streamliner is currently being restored and used to break the piston driven world land speed record.
Racing is full of unfinished business. For Mickey Thompson, the famed driver and innovator, it was breaking the piston driven world land speed record. He came achingly close in 1960 with the Challenger I, but broke down on the return run. He struck back in 1968 with the Challenger II, but was foiled by a rainstorm which turned the track at the Bonneville Salt Flats into a lake. After his retirement from racing in 1988, he partnered with his son Danny Thompson, a racer in his own right, to make another attempt. Their collaboration was tragically cut short when Mickey and his wife were murdered.
On the 50th anniversary of his father’s original 406mph run, Danny removed the Challenger II from storage and brought it to his Huntington Beach shop. Untouched for almost forty-five years, he began the extensive process or restoring, retrofitting, and updating the vehicle. Danny wants to lay his father’s business to rest. For him, that means taking the Challenger II, a vehicle that hasn’t run since 1968, to the salt flats at Bonneville and going at least 450mph. That’s what it will take to break the piston driven world land speed record.
Danny Thompson and his crew just finished up a test run at El Mirage Dry Lake; the first time the Challenger II has run in 46 years!
Go HERE to read about their successful test run.