So, the latest Automobile Quarterly showed up at me door Saturday, and in amongst the expected articles (a nice write up on Brookland’s anniversary, a history of Lorraine-Dietrich, etc.), there was an really nicely done bio on Mickey Thompson.
Now, all of you out there should know who Mickey Thompson is.
Many moons ago, when I was a kid, Mickey Thompson seemed to be everywhere.
He was a hot rodder, speed parts designer builder and seller, off road racer, tire manufacturer, drag racer, multiple land speed record holder and builder and racer of very innovative Indy cars.
Mickey was the guy that founded SCORE, brought motocross into stadiums, got Danny Ongais (of all people) his first major ride in drag racing, and had his cars were involved in the worst crash of the 60s at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The only thing he didn’t do, to my memory, was road race.
He was one of these guys who you just knew on first sight; big busted up hands, wore a t-shirt more often then not, flat top haircut, clean-shaven, big smile … sort of a car version of Greg Noll, in both looks and deeds. Mickey Thompson was the quintessential guy down at the machine shop who also raced on the weekends and made it big – bigger than any of us thought possible. He seemingly lived a good life and found his version of the American dream when that was still a possibility.
After competing and living through two of the most dangerous decades in car racing, Mickey Thompson and his wife were gunned down my masked, machine gun wielding assailants in 1988. Turns out the thugs were hired by a business associate of his, Michael Frank Goodwin, who is now serving two consecutive life-without-parole terms for the murders.