LAS VEGAS (Nov. 2, 2011) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s Mickey Thompson Performance Tires & Wheels subsidiary will help power Danny Thompson's attack on a land-speed world record next summer.
Mr. Thompson, son of the late racing legend and company namesake Mickey Thompson, is preparing to blister Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in a car designed by his father with runs in excess of 420 mph, which would eclipse the 6-year-old record of 417.02 mph for internal-combustion, wheel-driven machines.
In 1960, his father was the first American to break the 400-mph barrier on land, although he was never credited with the record because he was unable to make a required second run in the opposite direction within the allotted time. On Oct. 18, 2009, Danny established a new record speed of 255.764 and a top exit speed of 258.41, earning him the title of C/BFALT-Class World Land Speed record holder. He was driving an E85-powered 2010 Ford Mustang from Ford Racing and Hajek Motorsports.
Mickey Thompson Tires will supply tires and engineering support and contribute $300,000 and provide other services, such as building a special project website covering the restoration of Mickey Thompson's racecar, then called the Challenger 2. The updated machine has been named Challenger 2.5. It will be powered by two 500-cubic-inch engines. Mr. Thompson estimated it will cost about $1.5 million to construct Challenger 2.5.
Mr. Thompson will be a spokesman and make a few appearances for the Stow, Ohio-based marketer of high-performance tires and wheels. Details of the partnership and engineering challenges were discussed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas Nov. 1.
“It is incredibly exciting for our company to play an integral role in assisting Danny in his efforts to continue his father's legacy and achieve motorsports history,” said Ken Warner, Mickey Thompson Performance Tires' vice president of sales and marketing.
Noting that each land speed run over the measured mile will take about 62 seconds, Mr. Thompson said, “When we do all our reconnaissance runs in August we'll probably only run it on maybe 10 percent nitro (methane), maybe no nitro, maybe just alcohol, so we can make all these laps, and not lean on the motor, so we can make sure the parachutes work, make sure it steers….”
Mickey Thompson established Max-Trac Tire Inc.—a predecessor company of Mickey Thompson Tire—in 1963 at the height of his career. He and his wife Trudy were slain in 1988 in the driveway of their home by two unidentified shooters. A former business partner, Michael Goodwin, was convicted in 2007 of murdering the couple.
Considered a racing innovator, Mr. Thompson is credited with designing and building the first slingshot dragster, with being among the first to design effective Funny Cars, and was a pioneer in bringing off-road racing into large stadiums. He competed in drag racing, oval track racing, off-road racing, etc. in addition to his land-speed record attempts.
Mickey Thompson racing tires are used extensively by racers at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Jeff Yip is a Tire Business freelance writer based in Houston.