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History #990 "Golden Rod" Streamliner ... PICS!!!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HEMI32, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Ryan's More on Kenz & Leslie... post reminded me of a another Colorado based streamliner ... Tommy Thompson's #990 "Golden Rod"!

    When I was researching my father's trip to the 1958 NHRA Nats in OKC (see my The 1958 NHRA Nationals thread), I came across an 8x10 "contact sheet" of 2¼x2¼ B&W photos from 1958 ... most were pics of the Coupe after participating at the '58 Nats ... but three of the pics were of the #990C streamliner on a trailer:

    part of that "contact sheet"

    Mike Thompson (of Glendive, Montana) was a friend of my father's and teamed up with him to run the Coupe at the '58 Nats ... so I'm thinking that Mike is/was somehow related to Tommy Thompson (maybe his son, nephew, brother, or a cousin?) ... and since the pics of the Coupe were all taken in my father's home town of Beach, North Dakota (a border town near Glendive); I would surmise that these 1958 photos of the #990C streamliner were taken in Glendive.

    Here's individual scans of each pic (NOTE: Sorry about the poor image quality ... I'm still looking for the original negatives):

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  2. Here's a couple photos of #990 B in the pits @ Bonneville in 1970:


    I'm sketchy on the details (I was only 9 at the time), but I'm pretty sure that this is Tommy Thompson ... I remember pop's talking to him for what seemed like an eternity (I wanted to go look at other cars :)).
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  3. I've searched the Internet for more info on Tommy Thompson and his #990 streamliner ... but haven't found a whole lot ... except that Tommy named the car the "Golden Rod" (he hailed from Golden, Colorado) ... and that the car is often referred to as the "Original Golden Rod" so as to not be confused with the Summers Bros. "Goldenrod".

    I'm 99.9% sure that HAMBer @Rich Venza was somehow involved with the #990 streamliner ... perhaps Rich can fill-in some of the blanks and provide us with some history of the car?

    I also remember seeing pics of the #990 streamliner in 1950's and/or 1960's issues of Hot Rod Magazine ... I'll try to go through my 50's HRMs to see if I can't dig up some more info.

    Oh ... and I also found these pics of the restored streamliner's 2002 return to the salt:

    The Tommy Thompsopn #990 "Golden Rod" 'liner (as restored by Salt Flats Racing) @ Bonneville Speed Week '02
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  4. Man, I love these old streamliner posts!!!!! BTTT

  5. I just had a gander at my November 1959 issue of Hot Rod magazine ... on pg. 78, entry #990 is listed as the "Golden Rod" out of Denver, Colo.

    Tommy ran in both the B & C Streamliner class that year ... but didn't set any records.

    With the C motor (184-305) he attained a top speed of 198.12 MPH ... and with the B motor (306-488) he went 205.01 MPH.

    I'll definitely go through the rest of my HRMs ... and scan any pics I find of the (original) "Golden Rod" ... and will post 'em here.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  6. fiat128
    Joined: Jun 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,427

    from El Paso TX

    That's a great post. It's really neat to see the car through the years and that it's still making runs.
  7. fatcaddi
    Joined: May 3, 2004
    Posts: 369


    thats awesome. even the tralier looks fast
  8. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,612

    from SUGAR CITY

    What a blessing to born to such a cool father. You are always coming up with cool stuff every time you dig a bit.
  9. Here's another pic culled from the Internet:

    image from the BRYANT FAMILY RACING website
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  10. Brickster
    Joined: Nov 23, 2003
    Posts: 1,131


    I ran into that car being towed through Laramie WY in Aug. 2002 Asked the fella driving the tow vehicle about it he said it had just came from Bonneville for a Hot Rod photo shoot. The tow car was the gray/silver suburban it the pics above I remember it had Nevada plates on it. I later saw the streamliner at the Streamline open house in Denver.

  11. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 10,774

    from Zoar, Ohio

    Cool history! Thanks for sharing.
    Ryan should write a book of all the accumilative history thats acquired here before its lost in our collective memories.
  12. 28chevrat
    Joined: Oct 11, 2005
    Posts: 322


    Man this is a gret post thanks......Steamliner is bitchin, but the coupe is bad ass!!
  13. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,024

    from California

    are you hosting your pics in photobucket?

    you need to start using flikr (sp) since photobucket is blocked on my work computer and I can't see the pics until I get home.
  14. As it turns out, I was involved in the running of this car from the early 80's to '87 when we got tired of blowing up Arduns trying to go 200.

    Tommy Thompson lived in Golden, and had seen the Kentz-Leslie liner being built in their shops. Tommy loved racing, was an engineer at Coors, and decided he could build one of those things too. The result of a couple years work is the 990 Original Golden Rod 'liner.

    He somehow talked Oldsmobile into giving him 2 complete motors. I believe one was a 303 and the other a 324. Due to his lack of funding, both motors were run basically stock with dual quads. He ran the car for many years, but finally read the handwriting on the wall, and decided it would never set a record and parked it in the late 50's or early 60's.

    A friend of mine, Don Walling, from Lincoln Nebraska had been going to Bonneville since 1949, and knew everyone including Tommy. When another friend in Lincoln, Dave Thomssen, decided to go salt racing, Don talked to Tommy and borrowed the 'liner. They tried to run it with the Olds the first year, but it just couldn't cut the mustard in the C class.

    Dave is an old flathead racer, who won his class at the US Nationals at Indy in 1960 with a T altered roadster. He also owns a set of Arduns, and so did Don. Out comes the Olds, and in go's the flathead. I think this was '79 or '80.

    From then to 1987 we tried, without any success, to set a 200+ record. Lots of blown flat motors, with and without the Ardun heads on them.

    On the way home in '87, after trying to buy another racers 'liner, we decided to build our own skinny modern streamliner. I contacted yet another buddy, Don Garlits, who had just announced his retirement from top Fuel, convinced him he needed to be in to 200MPH club and we were building a car that would do just that. All he had to do was pay for it. He jumped at the chance, and the rest as they say in history.

    I have tons of photos which I'll dig out and add to your post to fill in the gap between the olds period and the restoration completed just a few years ago.

    I have no info of the car every being out of Colorado until we brought it back to Lincoln. Tommy and his wife had 2 daughters, but no sons. When I returned the car to Golden in 1989, he told me there was no one in the family who had any interest in it. I don't believe the current owner is related in any way, but I can't swear to that.

    Dave is still running a '27 Street Roadster at Bonneville and just missed a record this year by less than 1/4 of a mile per hour. Don is near 80, in bad health and has sold his Ardun to another old Lincoln friend, Brian Cunningham, who plans on building it to race on the Salt in the future.

    Aren't you glad you asked???
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
    jimmy six likes this.
  15. Rich ... I am VERY glad I asked ... great stuff ... great info ... thanks so much for contributing to this thread ... I'm looking forward to seeing those pics!
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  16. Damn ... I totally forgot that I started this thread for @49ratfink's personal viewing pleasure while he is at work :rolleyes:

    Yes, they are all hosted on my Photobucket site ... I've had a flickr account for many years now ... but at the suggestion of some HAMBer with a 49 Chevy, I chose to start a Photobucket album for all my H.A.M.B. posts.

    Sorry ... you'll just have to wait until you get home to see my Golden Rod pics. :D
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  17. Is it just me or does this line make you feel slightly ill?
    Rich, YOU aren the man!
  18. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,024

    from California

    Damn ... I totally forgot that I started this thread for 49ratfink's personal viewing pleasure while he is at work

    lets try to remember that in the future.
  19. With almost 10 years of photos in my collection, I tried to pull a few that would help document the years we gave it our all to set a 200 mph record.

    These come from at least 4 different years. For those who are a bit squeamish about looking at dead Arduns, I'm sorry, but that's racing on the Salt. We pushed the 3 main bearing crank just a little too far. It came out in 3 pieces, the cam in 4. I don't think we tried to repair the pan. We borrowed the A-Frame, and used a come along to lift the wounded soldier. Those are Tim and Tom Thomssen doing the dirty work. Tim would later get in the 2 club driving the Ardun powered Swamp Rat 33 @ 231+.

    For a couple years when I was working at Speedway, I was allowed to use the company truck to tow the 'linre to Wendover. Thanks to the salt, my blue Suburban rotted out in about 5 years. Speedy Bill came to the rescue and we were able to tow from Lincoln in style.

    You will notice our one and only hero driver Don Kehr, originally from Lincoln, but now living in Cave Creek Arizona. Yes, hero drivers do attract the ladies, maybe better than roadsters. Not only did he prove to be a fantastic driver and ladies man, he also did all the graphics and lettering in the parking lot of the motel.

    The 40th anniversary in 1988 was celebrated with a lineup of all the Streamliners in competition. As you can see there were very few that year. The ones I can ID are the first Danny Boy Apples, and Jim Lattin's Red Head.

    Also seen in various photos are Dave, Tom and Tim Thomssen, Don Walling, Frank Morawski, Kent Halvorsen, Thomas Anderson (from Sweden) and me pushing on the fin the last year we ran old 990.

    Hope you all enjoy a little look at what a bunch of Cornhusker Hayseeds were playing with back in the day.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2008
  20. For all the sharp eyed readers, note that the original bodywork had no provision for a parachute. That was one of many updates we had to make to keep the car legal. We also added a serious 6 point funny car styled roll cage under the original canopy.
  21. I've saved the best for last. This is a 9" x 6" post card which was sold in the Salt Lake City area for over 35 years. It was produced by the Eric J Seaich Company also in Salt Lake City.

    Tommy never saw a dime out of the thousands of cards sold.

    If you look closely, there is no canopy in front of Tommys face, just a bump over the dual quad carbs on the Olds motor. The original roll bar was actually under that bump. The thinking of the day was for the driver to duck under should the car go over.

    I'm always amazed that more brave souls weren't killed back then.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 12, 2008
  22. Hey Rich, did you ever think that this car would have a 20+ year racingcareer? Thats pretty amazing when you think these days car are replaced most years!
    Joined: May 13, 2002
    Posts: 3,257


    My buddy Dennis owned the car.Since sold to Peterson museum.

    Attached Files:

  24. Thanks for the update. Do you know if it's currently on display?
    Joined: May 13, 2002
    Posts: 3,257


    I heard they were going to do a full blown resto on it.
    I'm not allowed in CA. So someone else should check the basement there...

    It was fun to sit in and make engine noises !
    Somewhere I have pictures of it wrecked with the first body on it.
    Going by memory (foggy) the first body was aluminum,second steel.
  26. I do remember the story of it being wrecked. Tommy was invited to make some passes at a drag strip in the Denver area. Can't recall which one. Well, it got away from him and he put it into whatever barrier they had in the shutdown area. Most of the body parts I recall were aluminum, but the way he built it, most of the body could not be removed from the frame.
    I was under the impression that most current restoration done by Dennis was very well done. Dave Thomssen told me this morning he had seen it twice around 2002-4 and thought it was an excellent job. He even changed the roll bar back to the single hoop design of the early 50's. I guess the Peterson has money to spend.
  27. I've checked the Petersen Automotive Museum website ... the #990 Golden Rod Streamliner doesn't seem to fit anywhere into any of their current (2008-2009) exhibits :(

    ... and I didn't see it in any of the Petersen "vault" (basement) pics from hotrodladycrusr & ChevyGirlRox's January 2008 visit to California ... Thelma & Louise.....I mean Denise & Megan's Great California Hot Rod Adventure ... Denise or Megan, do you remember seeing it?
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  28. I also went to the site and found exactly what you did. What I didn't find was any way to contact them via e-mail to ask questions.
    Plenty of places to buy stuff $$$, or become a member $$$, or donate a car $$$ or just make a big ca$h donation. But no way for car guys & gals to pick their brains on vehicles in the collection or museum.
  29. Rex Schimmer
    Joined: Nov 17, 2006
    Posts: 743

    Rex Schimmer
    from Fulton, CA

    Great history on this car! I think that it is now owned by Tom McIntire in So Cal, he has quite a few cars in his collection and the last time I talked to him I think that he said he bought this car. He is talking about doing an old Bonneville car deal at the salt to have some of the old cars that may not be quite up to todays standards get together and run at Bonneville.

    But now to the part that I found really interesting, you mentioned the Thomssens, as you probaby know Dave is still running his roadster, this year with a flathead and the Ardun was in Wayne Lichenhalters chopped 39 sedan, with a blower and I they ran over 140! Now Dave's dad, whom I only knew as "Mr. Thomssen" because he was my science teacher in the 9th grade is the guy that really got me interested in science and engineering, he was a great teacher! and it appears a damn good racer!

    Thanks for all the info!

  30. "Pop" Thomssen was Dave's right hand through much of the 60's, 70's and into the 80's. He would sometimes take a pass at the drags in Dave's original '23 T altered Hayseed Special that Dave won Indy with in 1960. Well one day "Pops" is making a pass, I believe it was at Kearney, Ne...when a lady who is lost, drives right out across the big end of the track and Pop T-Bones her. He wasn't a young man at the time and took quite a while to recover.
    Loosing that T is what prompted Dave to get into salt racing with Tommy's Golden Rod. The senior Thomssen came out with us for several years and was in charge of keeping us covered with sun screen, hydrated with fluids and fed with tasty sandwiches. What a great guy.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2015

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