It was a moment his family had been chasing for a half-century.
Racer Danny Thompson set a land speed record for piston-powered, wheel-driven cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats on Sunday in a vehicle that his father Mickey first brought to Utah in 1968.
The elder Thompson didn’t get a chance to drive the streamliner, named Challenger 2, that year due to bad weather, and he never got around to trying again before he and his wife were murdered in 1988 by gunmen hired by a former business associate. At the time, he was restoring the car for Danny to drive.
Instead, it was put way until a few years ago when Danny pulled it out, updated it and began racing it again. Equipped with twin nitro-burning Hemi V8s with total of 5,000 hp, the all-wheel-drive car is more than twice as powerful as it was when Mickey first built it.
On Saturday, Danny was competing in the Southern California Timing Association Speed Week event when he made a pass at 446.605 mph. He followed up on Sunday morning by going in the opposite direction at 450.909 mph, for an average of 448.757 mph.
That easily broke the record of 439.562 set in 2012, but it wasn’t easy. Danny had to steer out of a dangerous slide that occurred at 430 mph.
It was a clutch move on what will be Challenger 2’s last run. After the event, Danny told Fox News the car’s work is finally done.
“It’s the car’s 50th anniversary, and the whole crew pulled together to get the record, so I feel like I’ve finally put the streamliner’s unfinished business to rest.”