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Off-Road Hall Of Fame Inductees
Mickey Thompson Year Inducted: 2007

Mickey Thompson is an inductee in the Competition: Off-Road Racing category.

Mickey Thompson was a rare and special individual…He was a man of vision, with boundless energy and the courage to pursue his dreams to reality. Nearly all of his 59 years were devoted to motorsports, where he won acclaim as an innovator, businessman, car builder and race driver.

As an innovator, he was instrumental in the development of many safety and high performance parts, such as the wide oval tire, a high traction tire for drag racing and the electronic starting system (Christmas Tree) for drag racing while operating the famed Lions Associated Drag Strip (1955-65).

As a builder, Mickey conceived and built the first “Slingshot” dragster and was the first to break the 100 and 150 MPH barriers in the quarter mile. He also built the first twin-engine dragster and at the Indianapolis 500 in the early 1960’s, he was the first to introduce ground effects when he designed and built the first rear-engine car to qualify for the Indy 500.

As a businessman, his companies designed, engineered and manufactured his own line of components and designed, developed and tested high performance and racing tires.

During his lifetime, Mickey established more speed and endurance records than anyone in racing and many of those records still stand. In all, Mickey set over 500 National and International speed and endurance records. He won the Mobil Gas Economy Run; set stage records in the Mexican Road Race; won numerous Bonneville and National Drag Racing Championships and at the age of 55, won the rugged Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 Off-Road Race.

As a promoter, Mickey formed SCORE International in 1973 which today is among the premier off-road racing organizations in the world. Thompson had the foresight to bring in Petersen Publishing executive Sal Fish to run SCORE. This allowed him to focus on his passion, the technical side of the sport. This included developing a set of rules that competitors, sponsors and officials could live with and prosper. During the early years, he not only ran a series of desert events, most notably the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, but also brought Off-Road Racing in from the deserts of Mexico, to a metropolitan setting, when he presented the first closed-course off-road races at the Riverside International Raceway in California. Many in the sport feel it was a time when the sport of off-road racing was on the verge of dying under the weight of its own lack of organization.

During the next few critical years, Mickey Thompson and SCORE provided the organization, energy, capital, and media coverage that was needed for off-road racing to not only survive, but to grow. Mickey knew that improvement in professionalism, showmanship, and vehicle design was needed to take the next steps toward more and better media exposure. Thompson knew they were essential ingredients in developing sponsor and contingency support that could transform the sport into a major factor in the battle for the motorsports sponsorship dollar.

In 1979 under the banner of the Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG) he started the Off-Road Championship Grand Prix Series. The race series was staged in major sports stadiums throughout the country and received extensive national television coverage, effectively bringing off-road racing to as many as 60,000 viewers at many venues.

One can only imagine what other contributions he might have made to off-road motorsports had his life not been cut short when two masked gunman gunned down Mickey and his wife Trudy in the driveway of their home as they were leaving to go to the office on March 16, 1988. Almost 19 years later, Michael Goodwin was found guilty of two counts of murder when a Pasadena, California jury determined that he had hatched the plot to kill Mickey in an effort to somehow take over the stadium series. Goodwin may never have been brought to justice had it not been for the tenacity of his sister Colleen, who would not allow prosecutors to ignore the case.

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