Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
Mickey Thompson, aka "Mr. Speed," broke Bernd Rosemeyer's 22-year-old record for the standing mile and standing kilometre, when he drove his "Assault" car to record speeds of 149.93 and 132.94, respectively. Thompson's illustrious career began when, as a boy of 11, he attempted to build a street rod out of collected Chevy parts. Ten years later he made his first trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Though Thompson raced in all kinds of events, including off-road racing, he is best known for his achievements in engineering and racing speed trial cars. He set 295 records at Bonneville alone, and he was the first man to drive a car faster than 400 mph. Thompson enjoyed mixed success at the Indy 500, where he first fielded cars in 1962. Teaming with British chassis designer John Crosthwaite, Thompson built the first Indy Car with a rear-mounted V-8 and fully independent suspension. Thompson's car engines were bored and stroked to 255 cubic inches, but they had 70 hp less than the racing Offy's that dominated the Indy field that year. Of Thompson's three small cars, only one qualified for the race. His car ran much of the race not far from the lead until a mechanical failure forced it from the race. Thompson won the Mechanical Achievement Award for his original design. The next year, while the Lotus-Fords had integrated his innovations, Thompson gave the field even more to think about by widening his car bodies, tires, and wheels. The Lotus-Fords took the spotlight with their power, but one of Thompson's cars finished an impressive ninth place. Nineteen sixty-four spelled tragedy for Thompson's Indy Cars, and the outcome of the race forced him from the sport. After introducing radical new car bodies, Thompson's team had problems from the start. In the end, only Dave MacDonald qualified a Thompson car. Early in the race, MacDonald lost control of his car, crashing into Eddie Sachs and killing both of them. Thompson's designs came under heavy criticism after the accident, and he stayed away from Indy Cars. In the late 1960s, Mr. Speed made numerous assaults on speed records at Bonneville. In the 1970s, Mickey became interested in off-road racing after he watched the off-road Mint 400 race from his airplane. "It was the most exciting race I'd ever seen," Thompson told a reporter. He went on to design an off-road vehicle before forming SCORE (Short Course Off-Road Events). Thompson, almost single-handedly, turned off-road racing into an indoor event. At the time of his tragic death in 1988, Thompson had led a full life of racing. He reportedly met his wife, Trudy, in a drag race; she won, so he married her. The couple was gunned down outside their home in California. In 2004, Thompson's former business partner, Michael Goodwin, was convicted for the murders.