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Mickey Thompson: Fastest Man on Wheels

Mickey Thompson was known universally as “Mickey.” In his early twenties, he worked for the Los Angeles Times newspaper while becoming involved in the new sport of drag racing. He developed a brilliant career as both a driver and an innovative automotive technician; later as a designer, manufacturer and seller of racing and performance equipment. In addition to being a drag racing champion, Thompson set more speed and endurance records than any other man in automotive history. He is credited with designing and building the first slingshot dragster in 1954, moving the seat behind the rear axle to improve traction when the existing racing tires proved unsuitable.  A change so momentous would not happen again until Don Garlits introduced the rear-engined digger in 1971.  Thompson also was noted for being the first manager of Lions Drag Strip near Long Beach, California in 1955.

Mickey Thompson roared out of the hot rodding world of Southern California to become the “Fastest Man on Wheels,” when his Pontiac powered Challenger One broke the 400 mph mark at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1960, at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Thompson achieved international fame when driving Challenger 1 he became the first American to break the 400 mph barrier, hitting 406.60 mph and surpassing John Cobb’s one-way Land speed record of 402 mph. The record didn’t become an official record because of difficulties he encountered on a second run. The speed authorities require a second run and take the average for the record books. This promotional film captures the drama of his attempt.

Written by CNaz

CNaz

My Life at Speed Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Chris Nazarenus, had a chance meeting with key executives at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1998. It would be the "Jerry McGuire" moment that would change her life forever. Although she knew nothing about motorsports at that time, the chance meeting would influence her passion for all things fast, great stories and interesting people. That's what you will find here at My Life at Speed.

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