More rain at salt flats delays racer's pursuit of land speed record

450 mph: Just add salt
450 mph: Just add salt


    450 mph: Just add salt


450 mph: Just add salt 04:05

Story highlights

  • Danny Thompson, son of racing legend, still chasing land speed record
  • He would have set record in vehicle class but broke down on return trip
  • He has come within 20 mph of record for all piston engine cars
  • Rain ends season early; Thompson vows to continue speed chase
Danny Thompson, son of racing legend Mickey Thompson, will have to wait another year to write the family name into the official record book at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Thompson's pursuit of the land speed record for a piston engine car -- 439 mph -- was jinxed by rain at Bonneville's annual Speed Week in August, and again at the event intended to make up for the lost time.
The Southern California Timing Association, which tallies the records, announced late Sunday that it was raining in Bonneville and that the salt would be too soggy for racing this weekend.
"Bad news," Thompson said in a text message. "The SCTA just canceled World Finals due to rain. That's the end of the season."
Rain might have ended the 2014 racing season but not the dream, Thompson told fans in an announcement, which was accompanied by a photo of him looking exasperated.
Danny Thompson is trying to become the fastest driver of a piston engine car, just like his dad, Mickey Thompson.
"Thank you to my amazing team, my faithful sponsors, and all of you for your support over the past year," he said. "The dream isn't dead, and the Challenger II will return to the salt. See you then."
Last month, Thompson came within 20 mph of the record held by George Poteet, who survived a 370 mph crash last month at Cook's Shootout, another popular racing event.
Thompson sought to break 392 mph to set the record for his vehicle class and hoped to be the first to drive a piston engine car 450 mph.
Thompson drove Challenger II, named after his father's record-breaking car, 419 mph during one leg of his race, and reached a top speed of 424 mph. But his clutch failed on the return trip, and he fell short of the official record. The average speed of the two trips is needed for the record.
While he ended the season short of the records he chased, Thompson has now matched the feats of his famous father. Mickey Thompson, known as the Speed King, was the first American to top 400 mph.
He went 406.6 mph at Bonneville in 1960 but also broke down on the return trip. The following year, rain turned the salt flats into a shallow lake, and Mickey Thompson never held the official record. He planned a return to Bonneville to chase the record in 1988 with son Danny behind the wheel, but the elder Thompson was gunned down in the driveway of his Southern California home that February.
Mickey Thompson did not want his son to die in a race car and would not let him compete as a kid. But it was all Danny wanted to do.
In 2010, 50 years after his father's feat, Danny Thompson decided to rebuild the Challenger and renew the record chase.