The piston driven land speed record was broken yesterday – it now sits at a phenomenal 448.757 mph average. Hitting almost 450 mph in a 50-year-old car is a remarkable achievement and behind this is an even greater story.
Danny Thompson’s record-breaking Challenger II was originally built by Danny’s father Mickey Thompson and was initially set to race at Bonneville in 1968. Bad weather at Speed Week that year, resulted in the streamliner not running. In fact, Thompson senior’s death that came shortly after resulted in him never running the Challenger II at all.
The Challenger II remained unseen until 2016 when Danny junior pulled it out from hideout, revamped it and even managed to set a new record at that year’s Bonneville Speed Week for an "unblown fuel streamliner" of 406.70mph.
Equipped with twin nitro-burning Hemi V8s with a total of 5,000 hp, the all-wheel-drive car is more than twice as powerful as it was when Mickey first built it.
Confident it could do more, Danny Thompson was back with the Challenger II at Bonneville again the weekend just gone. The goal was to break the record of 439.563 mph set in 2012. Despite the best condition in years, there was some traction from the Challenger II, resulting in a 400 mph drift to the edge of the track. Either way, Danny managed to record a staggering 450.909 mph for the five-mile run, to secure a record book figure which is an average of two runs in 448.757 mph.
Danny Thompson - “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.”
Watch the exhilarating video of Thompson’s record-breaking run below: