Today, the name Mickey Thompson brings to mind stellar wheels and tires that are respected for their speed and safety capabilities. Long before the wheels and tires, Mickey Thompson the man was known for his thirst for speed and his ability to race. Off-road, his performances are the stuff of legend. He also raced dragsters and won many championships.
He was a talented driver but what really has kept his name at the forefront of the racing world is his ability to serve as a skilled automobile technician. He did not just drive cars; he made them better. He is the person who designed the slingshot dragster, moving a seat so that he could effectively increase traction and ultimately speed.
The first American to break the 400mph barrier, he continued to make different modifications to different types of vehicles, owned a famous drag strip and designed championship cars. In 1963, he parlayed his popularity and prowess into his own brand, Mickey Thompson performance tires. Henceforth, the name Mickey Thompson became known for performance tires, including those used by Indianapolis 500 competitors.
Mickey Thompson is also credited with bringing racing to the forefront by founding a governing body for the sport and for helping get motocross and off-road races into stadiums and away from off-road venues. This increased the visibility of the sport and led to today’s famous mammoths such as Bigfoot. Indeed, it does not seem a huge stretch to thank Mickey Thompson for starting a movement that would eventually peak with the X Games, where motocross is a star sport.
Unfortunately, the Mickey Thompson legend has a sad ending. The visionary and his wife were murdered in 1988. A former business partner of Mickey was eventually charged with the murders and convicted. The murders have been the subject of many TV documentaries and though Mickey Thompson is no longer living, his legend lives on. He was posthumously awarded inclusion into the Motorsports Hall of Fame and Automobile Hall of Fame, which may not have existed today without his influence. He also has been recognized as one of the top drivers of all time.
Today, his legacy lives on in Mickey Thompson wheels and tires. With a spirit that was made for speed, Thompson inspired others to go as fast and as far as possible. Those who elect to place Mickey Thompson tires on their vehicles remember that spirit and honor it.
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