His name is Danny Thompson and the near 70-year old American retiree and former race car driver has set a new land speed record, achieving an average speed of 448.7 mph (724 km/h) from two separate 1-mile (1.6 km) runs.
With the Challenger 2, a “revised” land speed machine, Danny Thompson broke the record for a “wheel-driven vehicle, powered by a piston engine”. The previous record was 439 mph (706.5 km/h), set in 2012.
What’s even more impressive is that this is no cutting-edge land speed machine built in recent years, like the tech-drenched Bloodhound SSC. Instead, the Challenger 2 was originally built by Danny’s father – who also happened to be the first American to break the 400 mph barrier – more than 50 years ago. The record set in 1960 was 406.6 mph (654.3 km/h).
The one significant “revision” to the land speed machine is that it now houses two 2,500 hp nitro engines, in replacement of the quad 7.0-litre Pontiac supercharged V8 engines from before.
Danny is the son of Mickey Thompson, who along with his wife was murdered by a business partner in their home. If that name sounds familiar to you; yes, he’s the same Mickey Thompson whose name you’ve seen embossed across the side walls of high performance tyres.
Prior to joining the performance aftermarket business in the early 1960’s in which he started the “Mickey Thompson Performance Tyres”, Mickey Thomson was known for his exploits in hot-rodding, race car-building and race-team promoting before his demise in 1988.