This rail could not appear like abundant by today’s Hot Rodding standards however back in 1954 Mickey revolutionized drag racing forever by build the primary dragster! Mickey Thompson’s interest in drag racing (and racing generally) 1st began when he attended the first legal drag races in 1950 when Mickey saw his initial pass he was hooked! He began to work on his own cars and notice ways in which to get more power out of motors, at the time he didn’t have abundant money therefore this galvanized Mickey to try to to everything himself! He would weld his own cylinder heads inside the combustion chamber to extend compression and even grind his own camshafts! He would use these skills during the early 50?s to make his cars faster.
However by 1954 a growing problem in drag racing was the need for traction. Hot rodders where getting more Horsepower and Torque out of engines but there cars lacked traction to place this power to the bottom. Mickey being the nice thinker and innovator he was would spend his numberless sleepless nights (He apparently didn’t sleep much and worked a graveyard shift for the LA Times) coming up with ways that to get additional traction and during the day he would tinker in his garage building a hot rod soon to be known as the slingshot dragster.
Mickey had to say this concerning his thinking “Throughout my usual wakeful nights I used to ponder this and what might be done regarding it. Gradually the thought took form. The massive obstacle was keeping the motive force between the engine and also the rear axle. This needed a drive shaft of a certain length, which pushed the engine forward by that amount. Now if you would place the driving force behind the rear axle you could couple the engine-transmission assembly on to it and you would very have the main weight of the vehicle targeted on the driving wheels.”
What Mickey did was move the driving force behind the rear axle and extended the wheel base therefore the burden would transfer higher to the rear wheels. Mickeys next problem was attempting to get additional rubber on the bottom for more traction. He realized that current tires weren’t big enough to grip that much power. So he went to the A1 Tire Company and convinced them into make a newer wider tires aka the first drag slicks (Mickey invented the primary drag slicks too)!
Because the slingshot was nearing completion Mickey says the naming went like this “As it gradually took form, the results of of these ideas created me the butt of jokes Southern California. However funny issue was that it ran and one day a Santa Anna hot rodder Leroy Neumeyer said to me, “You understand what that beast strikes a chord in my memory of, Mick? A slingshot. You apprehend, the way the driver sits back there sort of a rock during a slingshot.” That was the name that stuck and therefore the configuration proved to be therefore successful, therefore unbeatable, that within a few years it became the quality of the sport.”
His new innovative design proved successful and shortly Mickey rebuilt his slingshot and another drag racer named Calvin Rice had the first slingshot drag race at the inaugural 1954 NHRA Nationals which proved to the world what slingshots could do and forever changed the face of drag racing.