Back to Racing
“I told the doctor I wanted more throttle out of my knee. He turned out to be an awesome mechanic. What he did was magic.”
Racecar driver Danny Thompson, 67, set the national land speed record at
406.7 mph in August 2016. He is one of only 12 people in the world who
has ever driven over 400 mph in a piston-powered car. Danny doesn’t
let anything slow him down – including a bad knee he claims was
worn out from too much fun and too many miles.
“Before surgery I was limping like an old man,” he says. “I
had to stop running, snow skiing and waterskiing, and it was difficult
to work on my cars. My main concern was how difficult it had become to
get in and out of my streamliner racecar, the Challenger 2, which is 32
feet long and just 3 feet wide. It’s a tight fit and tricky getting
into the roll cage.”
Danny underwent two unsuccessful arthroscopy procedures before someone
recommended he consult with an HOI orthopedic surgeon. He recalls, “I
told the doctor I wanted more throttle out of my knee. He turned out to
be an awesome mechanic. What he did was magic.”
In August 2017 during Speed Week, Danny Thompson will return to the salt
flats in Bonneville, Utah, to race. The competition has never been fiercer
in his quest to surpass the international land speed record of 414 mph.
His car and he need to be in top form for maximum performance.
“When the doctor recommended I have a full knee replacement I wasn’t
happy about it because I don’t have time to be down,” he says.
Danny attended the pre-op class to prepare for surgery. He shares, “That’s
not typically something I would do, but I needed this operation to be
a success. From start to finish, Hoag Orthopedic Institute had an outstanding
crew. They kept me calm and gave me confidence. The facility is new and
clean, and everything ran really well. I’ve been to numerous hospitals,
so I think I’m a pretty good judge.”
He continues, “When I left the hospital the day after surgery I used
a walker for just one day. I never took a pain pill – just aspirin.
I’ve been hurt so many times that I’ve learned how to make
pain unimportant to me and push the limits of what I can do.”
After a month of therapy, Danny’s physical therapist told Danny he
couldn’t believe he’d come so far so soon. “When a session
was over I’d go home and do one or two more sets of the exercises
the therapist gave me,” says Danny. “I wanted to get better
fast so I didn’t do anything dumb to injure myself. Within two months,
I felt I had recovered.”
Danny’s limp is gone. He’s looking forward to snow skiing this
winter, and is pouring himself into physical training and preparations
for this summer’s racing challenge. Through his medical experiences,
United Healthcare has come aboard as one of his sponsors.
With a racecar as with human joints, Danny knows as well as anyone that
quality parts and precision are key in correcting and preventing mechanical
failures. Danny adds, “The whole experience has been awesome. HOI
did everything right to get to me to the finish line.”