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Speed Week 2018: The World's Fastest Piston Powered Record Holder!

We did it! On Sunday morning, eight years of hard work culminated in a 450.909mph return run. Averaged with yesterday's speed of 446.605mph, we achieved a new two-way AA/FS record of 448.757mph, enough to make us the world's fastest piston powered record holder. That has been the goal since day one of the project, and it wouldn't have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of my crew. The men and women who volunteered to join me on this crazy adventure are the reason for today's success. I can never thank them enough. 

This year's Speed Week marked the 50th anniversary of the Challenger 2's construction. In 1968, my dad, the mad scientists at Kar Kraft, and an elite group of Southern California gearheads created a vehicle that they believed had the potential to become the world's fastest hot rod. It took five decades, a lot of elbow grease, and a few modifications, but I feel like I've finally been able to fulfill their dream, as well as my own. Thanks guys. I share today's record with all of you.

I should talk about the run itself! It got a little squirrelly. I was almost lock-to-lock at around 430mph, which was quite an experience. If you'd like to ride along, we've embedded a cockpit video below this post. Additionally, we recorded our usual evening podcast, and posted some photos taken by the wickedly talented Bubb Lannan. Lots of good stuff today. It's my pleasure to share it with you.

Speaking of which, I'd like to thank all of you for coming along with me on this wild ride. The interest, support, and encouragement has meant a lot to both myself and the crew. We made it happen with your backing. 

We're in the books! What a fantastic day. 

Speed Week 2018: A 446mph Saturday

The title says it all! The Challenger 2 recording a blistering 446.605mph pass for the opening day of Speed Week. Danny said it was a pretty hairy ride (and our GoPro footage backs that up), but overall, the team couldn't be happier with today's performance. The streamliner has never gone faster, and despite a broken valve spring, the crew was able to get everything fixed-up and tip-top within the four hours they were permitted to work on the car in the impound area. If you'd like to hear more about everything that happened today, please listen to tonight's podcast, which is embedded below this post (press the little triangle to play).

Tomorrow is another huge day for the team, and we'll be starting early. In order to clinch a new record, we need to make a successful backup pass. We're planning on lining up as early as possible, and hope to be at the start line and ready-to-roll by 7AM. If you'd like to follow along live, you can head over to our Twitter account for updates, or listen to the livestream from the tower, which is available online this year. Otherwise, check back here later in the evening for a full update. As always, thanks for supporting Thompsonlsr! 

All photos (except for the time slip) by Bubb Lannan.

Speed Week 2018: Friday Night Podcast

Today was the crew's first full day on the salt. We finished setting up the pits, push-tested the C2's steering, and completed our final preparations for tomorrow’s run. Underneath this post you’ll find a few snapshots of the day's events, as well as a brief podcast in which Danny discusses the track conditions (spoiler: things are looking pretty darn good). 

Tomorrow's pass will take place in the morning, likely within an hour or so of the mandatory SCTA driver's meeting. We're shooting for around 10:30AM, but that may change slightly. To follow along live, head over to our Twitter account for up-to-the-minute news from the starting line. Otherwise, check back here later in the evening for a full update.

Speed Week 2018: How to Follow Along

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We're excited to be celebrating the Challenger 2's 50th anniversary at this year's SCTA Speed Week competition. The event is held on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, and is scheduled August 11-17th. If you're able to attend in person, we plan (conditions permitting) on making our first run on the morning of Saturday, August 11th. We try to be one of the earliest cars off the line, so be sure to head to the start area after the driver's meeting if you want to catch us. 

Can't attend in person? No problem! 

  • For live updates from the start line, head to Twitter.
  • If you're just interested in major news, we'll post that on Facebook and Instagram.
  • For in-depth nightly posts, including pictures and a brief podcast featuring Danny, you're already in the right place! We'll post those right here on our news page

Big Guy, Big Heart

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The team and I are heartbroken to relay the news that we’ve lost a great friend and principal crew member, Eric “The Big Guy” Hoenig. Those of you who’ve been following our project for years know how much of a struggle it was to rebuild the Challenger 2. In the middle of that difficult process, Eric miraculously dropped into our lives. He wanted to help, and it didn’t take long for us to discover that there was nothing too big or too small for The Big Guy. Before we knew it, he was an essential member of the team. When we were racing, he handled the nitro. When we weren’t, he was doing anything else he could think of, always giving his all and never asking for anything in return. We have more than 25 crew members, and every single one of them loved and respected him. He was a terrific friend to Valerie and myself, and we already miss him terribly. 

Thanks for everything E-man. We couldn’t have done this without you.

the Challenger 2 is Going to speed week 2018

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Happy New Year everyone! 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Challenger 2. My dad, the whiz-kids at Kar Kraft, and some of the best hodrodders California ever spawned built the car over a frentic six-month period in 1968. It took my crew and I a fair bit longer to get it back into shape, but by 2016 we had a 400mph+ AA/FS record, and in 2017 we reached our highest speed ever, 435mph. We seriously considered retiring the car last year, but it seemed like a shame to miss the anniversary, and the whole team felt that higher speeds were attainable. After ruminating on it, we decided that the C2 probably had one more year in her. 

That in mind, I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be returning to Bonneville for Speed Week 2018. The event will take place between August 11th and August 17th. Hopefully the weather will cooperate, and we’ll have access to a better racing surface than we’ve gotten over the last couple of years. We don’t currently have plans to participate in any other events, but as always, we’ll see how things shake out. 

As some of you probably recall, the SCTA’s World Finals event was cancelled last year due to rain. It was devastating news at the time, but it did mean that the streamliner has basically been race ready since September. That said, it’s hard not to tinker, and Valerie and I have made a few modifications and upgrades since then. We completed a more thorough repair of the nose cone, which was damaged during Speed Week (minutes before our fastest run in fact—Terry and Eric actually finished repairing it on the line). We also replaced a large portion of the aluminum belly pan, which had been damaged over time due to salt exposure. Finally, we switched out the previous seatbelt system with a new set from Crow Safety. They make great stuff. 

Along those lines, racing, as I’m sure all of you know, is expensive. We have terrific sponsors, but the beast is always hungry, so we are looking for new partners for our 2018 runs. If you know an individual or company that might be interested in coming on board, please get in touch using our contact page. 

That’s it for now. We hope to see all of you out on the salt this year, but if you can’t make it, we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with the Challenger 2 here on our website, as well as on our social media channels. Here’s to a fast (and safe) 2018!

2017 Crew Podcast, with Visuals

Our new podcast is here, and this time we enhanced it with visuals from this year's Speed Week event. The main topic of discussion is the crew, and how crucial they are to the project's success. It's worth noting that this conversation happened organically--Danny was speaking off the top of his head. As a result, a few team members didn't get the focus that their contributions merit. That said, hopefully Danny got across the general message that the Challenger 2 is powered by a team of dedicated individuals, not just the driver. 

Audio Update: What Went Wrong on the Speed Week Backup Run, and What's Next

In this podcast update, Danny discusses the full extent of the front engine failure, the condition of the course, and his plans for the SCTA World Finals event in October. If you'd like to see things as they happened, the videos of the unsuccessful backup run are now available on our YouTube channel. 

To listen, click on the play button (the triangle) above. Photo Credit: Valerie Thompson