Hello. My name is Danny Thompson. I’ve spent the last two years restoring the Challenger II, a pretty remarkable car that you’ve probably never heard of.
Originally constructed in 1968, it was intended to succeed where a much more famous vehicle, the Challenger I, had failed. Both of these cars were built by my father, Mickey Thompson, who gained international notoriety in 1960 by upstaging the British in the race for the world land speed record. The Challenger I went 406mph, but a breakdown on the return run prevented it from receiving the official FIA record.
That’s where this vehicle comes in. While the original Challenger was a blunt instrument, the Challenger II was a technological tour de force. Shaped like a cigar, the sleek two-engined vehicle was clad in an uninterrupted skin of hand-formed aluminum and was assembled by some of the era’s pre-eminent hot rod fabricators. It’s original test runs were absurdly fast, but an unseasonal storm at Bonneville turned the salt flats (the only area long and flat enough for the car to run) into a lake. The project was halted, and the car was eventually mothballed as MT turned back to desert and drag racing.
My dad never forgot about the car, though, and he was convinced that the Challenger II, proven or not, was the fastest wheel-driven vehicle ever built. We teamed up in 1988 to try and rebuild it, an effort that was cut short when he was killed later that year. 2010 was the 50th anniversary of his initial run in the Challenger I, and I decided to restore and run this car as a tribute to him.
It hasn’t been an easy process, and in the following weeks I’ll chronicle the changes that are being made to update the chassis, aerodynamics, and powertrain for another shot at the record. I’ve decided to call the project ThompsonLSR, and I’m grateful to RACER for allowing me to share this adventure with you.
You can find out more about our project here: