Dick Thompson (racing driver)

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Dr. Dick Thompson in 2007

Richard Knight Thompson, Jr. (July 9, 1920 – September 14, 2014) was an American racecar driver. A Washington, D.C. dentist by trade, he is known as "The Flying Dentist". He won numerous Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) championships and was inducted in the Corvette Hall of Fame. Thompson brought credibility to the Corvette as a world-class sports car.[1] Active from the late 1950s until the 1970s, Thompson raced for several notable racers, including the factory Corvette team for John Fitch and Briggs Cunningham.[2]

Thompson started racing in 1952 in one of the first 12-hour races at Sebring International Raceway.[2] He drove to the track in his MG TD, and co-drove the car to an eighth-place finish.[2] He caught Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov's eye in 1956,[1] when Thompson was the only driver to compete in a production Corvette.[2] He won the SCCA championship in his Corvette in 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961 and 1962 in Classes A, B and C.[1] He was selected to test drive a new Corvette Grand Sport at Sebring in December 1962. In 1963, he drove a Corvette Grand Sport to victory at Watkins Glen International. He took third place that year at Daytona International Speedway and won the GT class in 1970.

In 1967, Thompson won the 1000km of Spa with Jacky Ickx in the Gulf-liveried JW Automotive Mirage M1.[3]

Thompson used his knowledge of the Corvette to write The Corvette Guide in 1958.[1] He never made enough money to cover more than his expenses. He had never quit his dentistry business, so he decided to concentrate on that business full-time. He has raced occasionally in events since his retirement.[2] He lived in Wellington, Florida as of October 2007.[2] On September 14, 2014, he died of pneumonia at a hospice in West Palm Beach, Florida.[4]

Honors[edit]

Dick Thompson was inducted in the Corvette Hall of Fame in 2000.[1] Dick Thompson was inducted in the Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame in 2013. He was inducted in the Sports Car Club of America's Hall of Fame in January 2018.

Racing record[edit]

12 Hours of Sebring results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1952 United States R. K. Thompson Jr. United States William Kinchloe MG TD Mk II Special S1.5 129 8th 3rd
1955 United States Jack Pry United States Charles Wallace Jaguar XK140 S5.0 163 10th 2nd
1957 United States John Fitch Switzerland Gaston Andrey Chevrolet Corvette C1 GT5.0 173 12th 1st
1958 United States Dick Thompson United States John Kilbourn
United States Fred Windridge
Chevrolet Corvette C1 GT5.0 144 33rd 2nd
1959 United States B.S. Cunningham United States Walt Hansgen Lister-Jaguar Knobbly S3.0 164 12th 5th
1960 United States Jaguar Distributors of New York United States Fred Windridge Chevrolet Corvette C1 GT5.0 41 DNF DNF
1961 United States Mono Corporation United States John Fitch Maserati Tipo 61 S3.0 ? DNF DNF
1962 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Walt Hansgen Maserati Tipo 64 S3.0 30 DNF DNF
1963 United States I. Grady Davis United States Don Yenko Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray GT +4.0 14 DNF DNF
United States Duncan Black
United States Ed Lowther
United States M. R. J. Wyllie
United States Don Yenko
167 DNF DNF
1964 United States North American Racing Team United States Bob Grossman Ferrari 250 GTO LMB GT3.0 186 15th 2nd
1965 United States Shaw Racing Team United States Graham Shaw Shelby Cobra GT5.0 173 19th 4th
1966 United States Roger Penske United States Dick Guldstrand Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport P +5.0 65 DNF DNF
1967 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering United States Ed Lowther Ford GT40 S5.0 119 DNF DNF
1968 United States Howmet Corporation United States Ray Heppenstall
United States Ed Lowther
Howmet TX P3.0 125 DNF DNF

24 Hours of Le Mans results[edit]

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1960 United States B.S. Cunningham United States Fred Windridge Chevrolet Corvette C1 Coupé GT5.0 207 DNF DNF
1961 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Augie Pabst Maserati Tipo 63 S3.0 311 4th 3rd
1962 United States Briggs Cunningham United States Bill Kimberley Maserati Tipo 151 Coupé E +3.0 62 DNF DNF
1965 United Kingdom AC Cars Ltd. United Kingdom Jack Sears AC Cobra Daytona Coupé GT5.0 304 8th 1st
1967 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering United Kingdom David Piper Mirage M1 P +5.0 59 DNF DNF
1968 United States Howmet Engineering United States Ray Heppenstal Howmet TX P3.0 84 DNF DNF

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Biography; National Corvette Museum; Retrieved October 22, 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e f Interview: Dr. Dick Thompson Archived 2006-09-24 at the Wayback Machine; John Wright; October 2007 Vintage Racecar Journal; October 22, 2007
  3. ^ "1967 Spa 1000Kms". Motor Sport magazine database. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  4. ^ Bart Barnes (2014-10-25). "Dick Thompson, champion race-car driver known as 'The Flying Dentist,' dies at 94". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 1330888409.