Video: Mickey Thompson, Fastest Man on Wheels

Here’s some awesome newsreel-style footage of the world’s greatest hot rodder, Mickey Thompson, and his 400 mph adventure at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1960 with his four-engined streamliner. Don’t miss this.  

 

 

MCG is a big, big Mickey Thompson fan. For a backgrounder on one of the greatest car guys who ever lived, please see MCG’s biography of M/T, “Life at 400 MPH,” which appeared in the December, 2008 issue of Hot Rod magazine. It’s not the whole story by a long shot, but it hits a few of the high spots.

Smokey Yunick provided one interesting description of his close friend Mickey: “There ain’t now way I can tell you really what this cat was all about. This was a very, very special human. He had the balls of a dinosaur and the persistence of a hungry tiger. His mode of operation was ’bout like a 95,000-pound, 600hp diesel tractor and trailer coming at you running 80. That man did not know what ‘It can’t be done’ meant.” That should help set the stage for the video below.

 

For one thing, we need to keep in mind when Mickey set out to break the land speed record, this was the turf of well-heeled, corporate-backed teams with aircraft-engined monsters. Unintimidated, Mickey did it hot-rod style in his homebuilt Challenger 1, powered by four junk V8 engines Pontiac had thrown his way. Only a few years later, he would be racing in the Indianapolis 500 with his own multi-car team.

M/T accomplished as much as any one man has in American motorsports, and he did it his way, following his own unique vision. In this little film produced by Goodyear in 1960, we get to see him at work for 12 minutes. Treasure the glimpse.

Note: Mickey’s son Danny Thompson, an accomplished racer in his own right, is chasing the wheel-driven land speed record in a machine conceived by his father. You can read more about it at his website here

 

8 thoughts on “Video: Mickey Thompson, Fastest Man on Wheels

    • Back in 1960 I was in the 8th grade and I remember my dad’s incredible reaction to the news that some guy just drove 400+ MPH! Who would have believed that some 24 years later I would meet this man of speed in the Sandak/March of Dimes Celebrity 4×4 Rally ! To Know him and his son Danny through Jim and Billy Wright was an honor, to be sure. Go GEt’m Danny! JB

  1. Growing up in the ’60’s, the LSR attempts were part of what captivated me. Mickey and Breedlove were the men! Thanks for the look.

  2. Mickey was a friend of our dad and has been to our house on many occasions. Like everyone I know, we have always had a deep,respect for all of his accomplishments. I have only met Danny a few times when we were kids, but also respect his many accomplishments. It is interesting to note that a guy from England went 400 in 1947, Mickey went 406 in 1960, and Danny drove 419 last year. With all of the technological improvements since ’47, it seems likely that Danny will soon go much faster if the salt cooperates with him. Good luck Danny!

  3. As a very young lad in Wendover mickey adopted me and took me out to the flats several times I was with them on this day I will cherish my memories forever as an adopted part of the crew my job was to crawl into parachute tube to drop the bolts in. It was also amazing to see how fast he left the push car behind when he started his engines love the sound of those engines the flame coming out and the ground would shake when he do a test fire in the pit.

  4. I witnessed that run in 1960 and have my own 8MM movie of it. They moved all the cars and people at the normal starting line about a quarter mile away and started Mickey about two miles back by the dike. He went by us about 200mph as he shifted into 2nd gear. I’ll never forget that beautiful sound like a B29 as he accelerated by. Go get’em Danny.

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