SEMA 2011: Danny Thompson Gears Up To Break Land Speed Record

Challenger 2.5 Fun Facts

• It takes a special M/T designed tire that is tested to a simulated 590mph with 1/32nds of tread depth and 100 psi of tire pressure
• The two naturally aspirated, nitromethane-injected engines will consume 50 gallons of fuel in 5 miles while producing 3,000hp
• Weighing in at 5500 pounds, the Challenger 2.5 has a total suspension travel of 5/8ths of an inch

In 1959 Mickey Thompson built Challenger 1 and drove it to a World Speed Record of 363.48 MPH and the world speed record in A/BFS Class, which stood till 1990

In 1960, Thompson returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats with a modified Challenger 1 for another record attempt. It contained four 410ci Pontiac engines and secured a new American record at 330.51 mph. 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 had mechanical problems before he could make a second run and thus secure the official record.

With the twin engine Challenger 2 built many years later, Mickey was unable to complete the record passes due to weather issues at the salt flats, and when murdered soon after.  Wanting to complete his father’s dream in moderate flare, Danny Thompson, Mickey Thompson’s son, will complete the restoration of of Challenger 2.5, building the fastest piston-powered car in the world. Thompson plans to exceed the existing internal combustion wheel-driven land speed record of 417.020 mph with a goal of more than 420 mph by the summer of 2012.

The Challenger 2 was Mickey Thompson’s innovative design to achieve his dream of building the fastest piston-powered car in the world. The fully restored vehicle in the form of the Challenger 2.5 using custom-designed Mickey Thompson tires represents Danny Thompson’s unfailing dedication to fulfill his father’s dream, honor his father’s memory and make motorsports history.

This speed record has only been bested by 10 mph over Thompson’s original record that was set over 50 years earlier.

Mickey Thompson Tires announce their support of Danny Thompson’s plans to exceed the existing internal combustion wheel-driven land speed record by donating $300,000 and a variety of other services in support this historic project.

“It is incredibly exciting for our company to play an integral role in assisting Danny in his efforts to continue his fathers’ legacy and achieve motorsports history,” stated Ken Warner, VP Sales & Marketing, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels. “This will be the realization of a dream come true for both Danny Thompson and the late Mickey Thompson, and we want to do all we can to support this effort.”

Through this sponsorship relationship, Thompson will act as the official spokesperson on behalf of the project representing the Mickey Thompson brand name, and will make a number of appearances throughout the year, provide regular monthly updates regarding progress, and more. Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels will support Thompson financially, and will build a special project website for Danny Thompson Motorsports, develop a promotional video to market the land speed record initiative, create video content covering the progress of the restoration of the Challenger and the advancement of the project, and support the development team with a variety of other marketing and communications efforts.

Article Sources

About the author

Mark Gearhart

In 1995 Mark started photographing drag races at his once local track, Bradenton Motorsports Park. He became hooked and shot virtually every series at the track until 2007 until he moved to California and began working as a writer for Power Automedia. He was the founding editor for its first online magazines, and transitioned into the role of editorial director role in 2014. Retiring from the company in 2016, Mark continues to expand his career as a car builder, automotive enthusiast, and freelance journalist to provide featured content and technical expertise.
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