Salted Pumpkin Seed

Jim wanted to bring back another famous old race car originally built by Bill Burke: the “Pumpkin Seed” that went 205.949 with a 156-inch Falcon engine in 1959. Then Mickey Thompson purchased the Streamliner to test his Pontiac four-banger Tempest engines. Danny Thompson, Mickey’s son, had taken it to the Alhambra High School Auto Shop where Mickey went to school. Jim checked on it over a seven-year period. Finally the school wanted it out. It was in pretty sad shape and Jim offered to buy it from Danny. The concern was the car was in pieces, so before stuff came up missing, the timing was right to get it out of there. “No deal,” Danny says. After all the work Jim had done for the family, Danny gave the Streamliner to Jim. Jim not only restored the Challenger but the “Assault” Pontiac-powered dragster that Mickey set 12 new world records in May 1960 at March Air Force Base.

While it had possibilities, a new ’cage was needed, the frame had to be replaced and stretched 2 1/2 feet because it had held the six-cylinder Ford Falcon engine. (Mickey built the aluminum body.) Right off the trailer in 1999 at Bonneville Jim set a new record of 217.586 mph with the “Pumpkin Seed” (named as such because it looked like one) powered by a GMC-6. Then in 2004 it went 253.563 with the Ardun-Ford V-8 and became the World’s Fastest Ardun. How’s that for an old racer about to be thrown in the trash?

At the same time Jim was thrashing to get the Streamliner ready for Speed Week, Steve Chrisman called and asked, “Do you want to do my dad’s car?” Steve’s dad was Jack, Art’s uncle. Jack and Art drag raced a rather harmless-looking (but chopped ) ’29 Model A two-door in the late ’50s that was anything but. It was a nitro-burning A/Fuel Coupe that, at its peak, it did 129 mph in the quarter-mile. Of course the answer was “Yes!” And so he’s said “yes” 28 times to restoring historic race cars.

Jim’s seven children can be proud of their dad for all he’s achieved, including going 203.502 to gain entry in the 200 MPH Club at age 64. The same year, in 1998, Jim was inducted in the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame in Buellton, California; the late Don Francisco nominated Jim for the honor.

Jim wanted to acknowledge the influence Art Chrisman, Don Ferguson Sr., and Bill Fowler had in his path to success when it came to racing, plus the assistance they gave to the many race cars that Jim has restored over the years and life in general.