Yep, the namesake behind one of the most famous drag racing tyre brands in the world built a land-speed racing streamliner in which his son, Danny, set a land-speed record for a piston-powered vehicle at nearly 450mph — and in January next year it will go under the hammer.
Mickey Thompson’s original Challenger I stirred up the land-speed racing world with four Pontiac V8s crammed into the tightest body possible. It debuted in 1959 and hit 406.6mph the following year. The successor to the Challenger I, the Autolite Special, appeared in 1968 bearing a pair of Ford SOHC 427 engines installed in tandem to reduce the streamliner’s width and frontal area. But by then jet-engined cars had taken over. What’s more, Bonneville flooded that year and despite the vehicle’s first tests proving promising, Ford withdrew its sponsorship. Mickey Thompson would never get to race the car again before he was murdered.
Some 50 years later, with a pair of Richard Catton–built fuel-injected Chrysler Hemi V8s that are good for up to 1500hp sipping nitromethane/methanol blend onboard, Danny was able to realize his father’s ambitions with a record-breaking run. Danny Thompson secured the SCTA AA/FS record with a two-way average of 448.757mph, a record for piston-powered landspeed vehicles.
The streamliner will be auctioned at Mecum’s Kissimmee auction, which is scheduled for 2–12 January.