NEWS

Stay up-to-date with our progress.

The Challenger II Will Run at Bonneville World Finals

Hi everyone. I'm pleased to announce that the Challenger II's final runs of 2014 will take place at the SCTA's World Finals event in Bonneville, Utah. The meet begins Saturday, Sep 27th, and goes until Friday, Oct 3rd. This year's competition has been expanded to a full "Speed Week" size event, and should be a great capstone to what has been a fantastic opening season for the restored and updated Challenger II.

The car has only run three full course passes so far, but has already achieved a speed of 419mph. We hope to keep building on that strong foundation to set a new AA/FS record before the end of the season. That said, we are well aware of just how difficult that is, and will continue with the steady and methodical approach that has served us well up to this point. 

I'd like to take a moment to thank all of our major sponsors, including Mickey Thompson Performance Tires, Galpin Ford, Hoenig Concrete Plants, and Airaid®. I'd also like to extend my sincere gratitude to the many other companies and individuals who have supported our efforts through product consideration or individual contributions. A full list is available here. As always, the project is hungry for addition funding. If you'd like to contribute personally, or know a company that would benefit from the unique exposure we can offer, please have a look at this page.

Finally, the project has been generating a lot of attention across all forms of media. If you missed out, Ann O'Neill wrote an amazing piece for CNN, Deepa Bharath put us on the front page of the Orange County Register, and Hot Rod Magazine did a great in depth profile of the project. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks for sticking with us!

Danny Thompson

World of Speed Update 4: Bad News

Hey guys. This is a relatively short entry that will be updated with more detail tomorrow evening. The short story is that we didn't get the record. The car left the line harder than it ever has before. It was a rocket ship start, but when I hit 6000rpm, one of the clutches failed. The car dropped into neutral and I navigated safely away from the course. We're very disappointed, but not discouraged. This would have been the car's third full run ever, so it's still early days. We haven't had any major issues up to this point, which is sort of a miracle in this sport. 

The initial plan was to fly in parts for Cook's Shootout, which was supposed to start on Friday, but I'm hearing that it may be postponed a few weeks. If that is the case, we'll head home and prep the car for more runs next month. I'll keep you up to date as I learn/figure out more. Thank you for all the support. 


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World of Speed Update 3: 419mph

What a great day for the Challenger II and the whole THOMPSONLSR team. As of this moment, we have qualified for the AA/Fuel Streamliner record. We averaged 419mph during the final mile and went a bit faster out the back door. To make things official, we have to back up today's run tomorrow morning. If we are successful, we're in  400mph club and the record books. 

We started out a little later in the day than I would have liked, which gave the salt time to warm up and soften. That said, the surface was much better than yesterday, and the car felt more composed during the run. Going that fast that quickly was an unbelievable thrill. The mile markers were blazing by.

The streamliner is currently in USFRA impound. We got four hours to work on it after the last run and we used every second of it. I'm delighted to report that everything checked out well. The engines were strong, the fuel system is holding, and the tires are ready to roll. We've got a lot of work ahead of us, and getting the record is by no means guaranteed, but we're all feeling good and ready to go after the big number with everything we've got. 

More news tomorrow. See you then. 


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World of Speed Update 2: 390mph

Boom! The Challenger II got to stretch its legs on a full length course for the first time since 1968, and boy was it exciting. The streamliner reached an average speed of 390mph, just a few mph shy of the class record. This was, in effect, the last of our "test runs," and we were able to prove that the dry block engines could survive a full five mile run. (And boy did they.) 

We had a few problems early in the day, mainly to do with our fuel setup, but we got them solved relatively quickly and lined up with the other cars. We've never actually gone over 300mph in an event before (only in testing), so we ended up in a lower speed line and had to wait out much of the day. That gave the sun time to soften up the salt, which meant that conditions were decent but not ideal. However, the car handled like champ, and we should be able to avoid most of those problems during our next run. 

We have a few changes to make tonight, but we're going to go back out tomorrow morning and see if we can exceed the current record and earn ourselves a spot in the 400mph club. Full speed ahead! 


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World of Speed Update 1: All Set Up

We're back at Bonneville! The rain is gone and the course is looking relatively strong. The first couple of miles are rough but manageable and we should have three full miles for shutoff. After Speed Week was cancelled due to flooding, the USFRA decided to expand their World of Speed event, which provided us with an unexpected opportunity to practice before the fast FIA runs later this month. We jumped at the chance, and the team pulled together in order to get everything ready in time. 

We left yesterday evening, and I'm pleased to report that our pits are now setup, we've been through tech, and the rest of the crew is flying in tonight. If all continues to go well, we should run for the first time tomorrow. We'll be posting text, picture, and audio updates here every evening, so stay tuned for more info. 


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Speed Week Update 2: Cancelled

It rained again last night, and the sad news followed around 7:30 this morning. After repeated deluges, the SCTA made the decision to cancel Speed Week. Given that the main course is now a lake, it's hard to blame them. Are we disappointed? We're more than disappointed. But we're certainly not giving up. The plan at the moment is to head back to Huntington Beach and begin prepping the car for Cook's Shootout in September. The SCTA is considering expanding a smaller event later this year into a sort of pseudo Speed Week, but a lot more details need to be hammered out before we can speak to that. 

The parallels between this event and what happened to M/T in 1968 are obvious, but I don't want to dwell on them too much. Mother nature rules at Bonneville. That's indisputable. But we are fueled by a fiery purpose, and will do whatever it takes to see this thing though. Thanks for sticking with us. 


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Speed Week Update 1: Rain, Rain, Go Away

It's Friday, August 8th, and we're on the shore of a lake that we were hoping was going to look a lot more like a race track. A sudden storm two nights ago flooded the flats, so we're stuck at the Montego Bay for a few days while we wait for the water to recede. The good news is that the SCTA has completed a review of the speedway and believes that the courses are drying well and that conditions will continue to improve. In practical terms, that means we are hoping to go through tech inspection on the salt this Sunday and run for the first time at some point later in the week. We probably won't have access to course 1 (the fastest course) on Monday, but things are looking better for courses 2 and 3, so other participants will get a chance to dial things in there and we can make some judgements about the quality of the salt. 

Obviously, this is a very frustrating situation, especially given the four years of work that it has taken us to get here. That said, we are upbeat and optimistic, and will continue to keep you informed as Speed Week progresses. Mother nature gave us the salt, so she can get it a little wet if she wants to. More news to come! 


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Speed Week Video Teasers

The Challenger II has run three times. We've learned a lot, worked our asses off, and are ready to step it up. We couldn't be more excited about Speed Week, and we're eager to share our experiences there with you. As we count down the days, we thought we'd make things a little bit more fun. Starting today (August 4th), we'll be releasing a new teaser video every evening. Get pumped! It's almost time for the big show! 

Day 1 - The Mission

Day 3 - The Team

Day 2 - Speed

Day 4 - In the Seat

Bonneville Test & Tune Day 3

Great news! We hit 317mph on our second pass today. We experienced no issues with the car and successfully gathered all the data we needed for the upcoming SCTA and FIA events later this year. Given today’s positive results, we’ve decided to forgo additional runs and return early. We’re not sure how much more we can learn on the 3-mile track and want to preserve the engines for the longer courses at Speed Week and Cook’s. 

Although the test exceeded our expectations, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Our engine team is going to work on hopping up our existing setup in order to generate more horsepower and faster acceleration. I personally will be making some modifications to the cockpit and safety equipment setup. As always, we’ll be tweaking our traction formulas in search of the least possible wheel slip. 

A huge thank you to my kick-ass team, our amazing sponsors, and all of you following along and supporting THOMPSONLSR and the Challenger II. To those of you still testing, be safe and have fun. It's been great getting to see and meet some of you in person. I consider competing with you a privilege. 

Below, you'll find a list of the people I'd like to thank (if I forgot you, please let me know, I'm old), plus lots of cool pictures and videos of our third day on the salt. Thanks for coming along for the ride! Lots more ahead. 

  • Blake Rutherford
  • Cherico Brown
  • Craig Johnson
  • Dan Warner
  • Dave Armstrong
  • Donnie Cummins
  • Eddie Marlen
  • Eric Hoenig
  • Frank Hanrahan
  • Holly Martin
  • Jason Brown
  • Jerry Darien
  • Judy Creach
  • Larry Baird
  • Lou Anderson
  • Martin Menne
  • Matt Holmes
  • Melanie McGuire
  • Mike Brauer
  • Mike Cook
  • Mike Cook Jr.
  • Mike McGuire
  • Peter DeLory
  • Peter Vincent
  • Reid Rutherford
  • Richard Catton
  • Richard Rohrdanz
  • Robert Johnson
  • Terry Hegman
  • Tim Gibson
  • Tommy Roberts
  • Valerie Thompson
  • Warren Baird

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Bonneville Test & Tune Day 2

We got to run the car on the salt today, and I can't describe how cool it was. We made a clean 246mph checkout pass early this morning. We have lots of these slower tests to look forward to as we work our way up the safety certification stairway and gather performance data about the car. I'm pleased to say that both engines started immediately and warmed well. The nose did not demonstrate any notable lift during the run, and our RacePak data acquisition systems performed flawlessly. We've been working on the car for four years, but it's all been largely theoretical. Getting to actually run and find out whether we've been making the right decisions has been an amazing opportunity. 

We prepped the car for a second test later in the day, but the wind speed started fluctuating between 10-15mph, so we decided to cancel. We'll be back out again early tomorrow morning, so I look forward to bringing you more of the latest then! Hopefully we'll be able to get some video up soon. The Wi-Fi at the hotel is pretty abysmal though, so in the meantime, please enjoy some photos by Holly and Peter Vincent. 


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