The Challenger II Returns To Bonneville: The Team

With most any type of motorsports, the team is what holds everything together; without teamwork, failure is eminent. Success is measured not just in victory, but in the accomplishment itself, and getting there is often a bigger challenge than the race – sometimes getting there is the race. With Bonneville Speed Week coming up this weekend, one team that is aiming for the record is the Challenger II, piloted by Danny Thompson.

On the 50th Anniversary of Mickey Thompson’s 406 mile per hour run on the salt flats of Bonneville, Mickey’s son Danny set in motion the resurrection of Challenger II. His goal is to hit the flats and to best the current record of 462 MPH for a wheel driven vehicle. The elder Thompson had retired from racing in 1988, with his last unsuccessful run in Challenger II 20 years earlier  in 1968 due to bad weather conditions.

But the Challenger II is back, and the team that the younger Thompson has brought with him to Bonneville has victory in their sights. Thompson says that most everybody on the team has volunteered because they want to be a part of it. As only a team that works together can attest to, success was met when on the second pass of Challenger II they hit 317 MPH, this during the 3rd day of Test and Tune at Bonneville. The team worked long and hard getting that point, with extended hours and countless days. On that run they experienced no problems or issues and were excited with the results.

The team has gathered enough data for the upcoming SCTA and FIA events, and being that their run has given them nothing but positive results they decided to return early and forgo additional runs, preserving the engines for the longer courses. But the day still isn’t done as they have enough data to work with and the immediate goal for the engine team is work on their existing setup to generate more power and provide faster acceleration.

Keep an eye out for the Challenger II as the entire team, led by Danny Thompson, seeks to best eight others and bring home the dream that his own father sought out those many years ago. They have 462 MPH as the mark to beat, and teamwork is the only way that Thompson feels that they can achieve it.

Photography by Holly Martin

About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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