60th Anniversary of the Challenger I at Bonneville
Speed Week is rapidly approaching again, and with any luck, we’ll see some decently smooth salt, and hopefully enough of it to run on! Flash back sixty years ago to the 1959 Speed Trails when Mickey Thompson brought the 4 blown, Pontiac-engined streamliner ‘Challenger 1’ to Bonneville. His goal was to beat John Cobb’s 1947 land speed record of 394.19 mph, set on the salt in his twin aircraft engine-powered Railton-Mobil Special. Although Mickey failed in his attempt at Cobb’s outright record, by the end of the Speed Week that year he set the Open record for the Bonneville Nationals to 330.512 m.p.h. and in one direction he recorded a highest speed of 362.318 m.p.h. The next year he would be back in the Challenger modified and eclipse the 400 mph mark, beating Cobb’s record and becoming the fastest man in the world.
A model company called Replicarz did a 1/18 scale resin model of that 1959 version in the original light blue, which I find to be a very attractive car. They only made 150 of them, so worth grabbing if you can swing it. Here’s a video showing the detail: