The North American Eagle land-speed record challenge team has been looking for the right driver of its car to take over from project manager Ed Shadle.
The converted F-104 Lockheed Star Fighter jet once flown by some of the most famous test pilots of the 1950s and 1960s has been tested for the past six years but has yet to make its attempt at the record currently held by Andy Green in the Thrust SSC at 763 mph.
Shadle has been working to bring that record back to the U.S. for the first time in 15 years.
He selected two-time motorcycle land-speed record holder Valerie Thompson, 45, originally from Tacoma, WA and living in Scottsdale, AZ to drive the 50,000-horsepower jet-powered car, designed to travel at over 800 mph.
"We're expecting Valerie to set a new record as the world's fastest female racer, when she eclipses Kitty O'Neal's 1972 record of 512 mph," Shadle boasted. Test runs with Thompson at the helm begin this summer.
Valerie Thompson photo courtesy North American EagleEnlarge Photo
"I feel truly blessed to be given this opportunity. It's something I have dreamed about since competing at my first land speed racing event at Bonneville (Salt Flats in Utah)," Thompson said. "Since the team is based in my home state of Washington, I feel like I'm going back to where it all started."
Thompson has a lot of motorcycle drag race experience, competing as both a team owner and pro motorcycle rider in the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) and in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock Motorcycle classes.
"Valerie has demonstrated her skill as a land-speed racer by setting records at the Bonneville Salt Flats," Shadle noted. "She has campaigned her own Pro Stock Motorcycle in NHRA events." Thompson replaces motorcycle champion Leslie Porterfield in the car, after Porterfield stepped down due to health issues.
The North American Eagle is looking to take the world land speed record, bringing it back by using the talents of American and Canadian engineers and former military personnel as crew.
"It's time to bring the record back to North America," Shadle vowed.