For a few weeks at least, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum will say goodbye to one of its most famous cars, the Mickey Thompson Challenger 1, the first American automobile to go 400 mph. It sails for England and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, June 22-24.
"Taking the car to England for Goodwood is just the first leg of a multi-year celebration of both land speed racing and Mickey Thompson's Challenger," said Tony Thacker, executive director of the ParksMuseum. "And now that his murder case is resolved the family can move on and celebrate Mickey's achievements. The timing is perfect."
Beyond taking the car to Goodwood, where it will be the highlight of a display of Bonneville vehicles on the cricket pitch, Thacker said they hope to fire the car up in 2008 at Bonneville for the first time in almost 40 years. "With four supercharged 415-cubic-inch Pontiac motors, four 1937 Cadillac Le Salle transmissions, four Cyclone quick-change axles and many miles of plumbing, cables and wire - but no starter, firing this beast is going to be a major operation. However, I'm confident that we'll hear it roar again."
After Bonneville, the Challenger will be returned to the
ParksMuseum as the centerpiece of its land speed racing exhibit, which opens Wed., Nov. 7. Funded in part by the Automobile Club of Southern California, the display will celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the SCTA, in which Wally Parks was instrumental.
"Mickey Thompson was one of the major driving forces in American motorsports," said Parks. "To be able to celebrate his achievements within the scope of our SCTA exhibit is a dream come true for me."
Added Thacker: "We're approaching some significant anniversaries in the world of land speed racing. 2008 will see the 60th consecutive Bonneville Speed Week, started in 1949 in part by our namesake Wally Parks. The following year will be the 50th anniversary of Mickey's first run in the Challenger in 1959. And, 2010 will, of course, be the anniversary of Mickey going 406.60 mph. Mickey's successes led directly to the creation of Thompson's speed equipment empire and his later influence on Bonneville, Indy cars, drag racing and off-road racing."
Named for the founder of the National Hot Rod Association, the WallyParksNHRAMotorsportsMuseum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California houses the very roots of hot rodding. Scores of famous vehicles spanning American motorsports history are on display, including winning cars representing 50 years of drag racing, dry lakes and salt-flat racers, oval track challengers and exhibits describing their colourful backgrounds.
The WallyParksNHRAMotorsportsMuseum is open Wednesday through Sunday, and is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona. For further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.