When you hear the name Mickey Thompson, what do you think of? Ok. Silly question right? They make tires. Heavy duty tires that are meant to hold up to the demands of all out auto racing. Few understand the truth anymore about this record-setting daredevil.
All we know is that we see the name all over the place. Featured gratuitously in catalogs that advertise car parts, and on banners littering the outskirts of racetracks, many of us don’t really know anything beyond “they make racing tires…”
Back in 1928, Mickey Thompson was born in Alhambra, California to the legal name of Marion Lee Thompson. Unwilling to be called “Marion” for the rest of his life, he quickly adopted the nickname of “Mickey”. Ever since his youth Thompson loved cars. He liked to drive them.
He liked to race them. He wanted nothing more than to make them faster than they had ever been before. He was known to get behind the wheel of anything and drive like there’s no tomorrow. But it wasn’t his simple passion for automobiles that set him apart from the countless other g-force junkies and speed freaks.
The company that was named after him has produced top-quality gear ever since his demise. But Thompson himself led a much different life. He was one of the bravest souls we’ve ever seen.
He built his career from a passion for pushing the limit, in both physics and engineering. He was a fierce competitor for the land-speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In fact, he’s known to have made history involving the total number of records set by one person! Once he got bored with that, he went into more conventional sorts of racing.
After barnstorming some of the scariest and most advanced competitions in existence he retired to the relatively docile arena of sanctioned auto racing. His reputation preceded him as he took some of the world’s most renowned organizations by storm.
I guess the daily grind of going from A to B ASAP every single day got old after a while. Didn’t I tell you he could drive anything? Well, he raced everything! From stock cars to indy, to dragsters and off-road, Mickey could never get enough.
Within what almost seems like a psychotic lust for danger, Thompson’s death actually took the world by surprise. It was nearly as absurd as everything else he did.
It seems fitting that an autosports legend like him would meet his end in a car crash. Or maybe even an unfortunate garage accident. But no. In 1988, he and his wife were gunned down in their driveway.
Ironically this happened right before they were set to take off in a couple of the contraptions that never dared to take him from us in years past. The supposed killer, an ex-business partner of his named Michael Goodwin, remains in prison to this day.