Hon­or­ing the Chal­lenger 2 and Turbina­tor II, historic hot rods at auc­tion, and mak­ing the scene at the Lonestar Round Up, Jalopy­rama, and South­east Gasser As­so­ci­a­tion race in Alabama.

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Contents - —JIM MCCRAW

It has been a busy time lately for the World’s Fastest Pis­ton-pow­ered Man, Danny Thomp­son. He re­cently re­trieved his 448mph record-set­ting Chal­lenger 2 from the Mu­seum of Speed in Wil­sonville, Ore­gon, and towed it to the Dry Lakes Rac­ing Hall of Fame mu­seum in Buell­ton, Cal­i­for­nia (Men­den­hall’s Mu­seum of Gaso­line Pumps & Petro­liana), where he and the car were in­ducted into the 2019 class, along with Team Vesco’s 503-mph Turbina­tor II tur­bine car, and the Gy­ro­naut X1 Tri­umph stream­liner mo­tor­cy­cle.

As soon as that cer­e­mony was over, Thomp­son headed for the Mo­tor­sports Hall of Fame of Amer­ica Mu­seum, tow­ing Chal­lenger 2 on an open trailer 3,000 miles to the Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speedway com­plex in Day­tona Beach. When he ar­rived he put the car on display next to Chal­lenger 1, which his fa­ther, Mickey Thomp­son, drove to 406 mph in 1960.

At an evening cer­e­mony, Thomp­son told a rapt au­di­ence about the nearly 60-year gap be­tween his fa­mous fa­ther’s last run at Bon­neville in Chal­lenger 1 and his record-set­ting runs in Au­gust of last year at Bon­neville, where he went out

the back door at more than 450 mph and set a new AA/ Fuel Stream­liner record of 448.757 mph, mak­ing it the fastest pis­ton-en­gined car in his­tory. Thomp­son de­scribed the eight-year process of tak­ing the 1968 car apart and reengi­neer­ing ev­ery sys­tem, in­clud­ing two new Brad An­der­son Hemi en­gines, new clutches, new driv­e­train, car­bon/car­bon brakes, and the new elec­tron­ics pack­age. He said it took eight years, seven days a week, all the money he had and could raise, and a group of salt-flats ex­perts to com­plete the pro­gram and then test-run the car in 2016 and 2017 be­fore the fi­nal as­sault last Au­gust.

He told the group that, on an early run, at 392 mph, the fire bot­tles went off ac­ci­den­tally, tem­po­rar­ily blind­ing him to the point that couldn’t even see his gloves and got dis­ori­ented for a few sec­onds. But he man­aged to save the car and get it slowed down.

Thomp­son ac­knowl­edged that while the Chal­lenger 2 is re­tired and on tour around the coun­try, he is not. He would like to start all over and build a brand new car—a shorter, lighter, less com­plex car with a sin­gle su­per­charged nitro Hemi en­gine, all-wheel-drive, and all the lat­est tech­nol­ogy in or­der to go 500 mph.

50 YEARS: 50 years after his fa­ther took the freshly built Chal­lenger 2 to a rained-out Bon­neville, Danny Thomp­son started re­build­ing the stream­liner. The record-set­ting Chal­lenger 2 is now on display with the 406-mph Chal­lenger 1 in Florida. 50 YEARS


TWO THOMPSONS: At the Mo­tor­sports Hall of Fame of Amer­ica, Thomp­son talked about all the mod­i­fi­ca­tions needed to take Chal­lenger 2 from its 1968 con­fig­u­ra­tion to to­day. TWO THOMPSONS

RECORD HOLDER RECORD HOLDER: Danny Thomp­son earned a place in land-speed rac­ing his­tory with his 448.757-mph AA/ FS record, as his Chal­lenger 2 is now the fastest pis­ton-pow­ered ve­hi­cle.

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