Maybe it was the flat screen hanging high against one wall showing a stock car race that brought the question to mind, but while I was interviewing Danny Thompson in his Huntington Beach shop for today's cover story, I asked about the lack of reality television cameras there.
After all, your Speed and Velocity and whatever other car-related cable channels there are out there routinely have shows from garages where interesting vehicles are being created. What, I wondered, could be more interesting than the twin-engine, cigar-shaped missile Thompson is putting together with the help of friends (hired and otherwise) so he can chase a land-speed record for a wheel-driven car?
His story has everything. He's the son of legendary racing sportsman Mickey Thompson, who chased the same record in the same car (prior to its latest rehab) before he was murdered. The ThompsonLSR shop is a sight to behold; even the massive trailer that had to be built from scratch to carry the space-age streamliner is impressive. And then there is Danny himself, who is quite the character.
It's drama, comedy and history, all in one package. Besides a compelling murder side story, there is the YouTube footage of Danny rolling over several times in a sedan he drove at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Watch this:
Speaking of rolling, producers could roll into the show the need for monetary support to keep his unique project going. It could generate funds and ratings!
So, Mr. Thompson, where the hell is the reality show production team?
Trust me, it's something he'd explored long before I brought it up recently.
"I've tried," he said sheepishly of trying to get one of the cable channels to bite. "They think that people would rather see icy roads in Alaska or people shooting ducks in a swamp."
He claims there is interest among people he knows in the entertainment business, just not those with the charge cards.
"I have six people who want to produce [a reality show]," Thompson explains. "But we can't find anyone to pay for it."
I'm not a big viewer of reality television or the car and racing channels, but I do love the BBC's Top Gear, did love the version with Adam Carolla and would faithfully watch Danny chasing the record every week.
Hell, how about a climatic live episode from Bonneville?
In the meantime, we'll just have to fill in the story through other sources. Perhaps you can find Mickey Thompson's 1965 book Challenger: Mickey Thompson's Own Story of His Life of Speed on Amazon.
Danny Thompson is keeping followers up on the latest with his project at his website thompsonlsr.com.
For photos of same: thompsonlsr.com/pictures.
For the unabridged history: thompsonlsr.com/history.
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For photos from Mickey's original 1960s runs: thompsonlsr.com/mt-historical.
For more about Mickey, check out Danny's video: vimeo.com/70435958.
And, yes, please give early and often to the project via Kickstarter: http://kck.st/18xEkT4"http://kck.st/18xEkT4.