Inducted into several Hall of Fames due to his ability behind the wheel of a sportscar, Dr. Richard Thompson passed away this past Sunday of natural causes at the age of 94. Known as the ‘Flying Dentist’, because of his profession when he wasn’t racing, Dick Thompson was a legend in the Corvette world with many wins during the ’50s and ’60s.
Oddly enough, with very little background in racing or even engineering, racing a sportscar came naturally to Thompson. His prowess earned him many championships along with big wins at the most famous events and tracks in road racing. He didn’t start racing until he was 32, but before long, he was winning SCCA championships – nine in all.
He started with MG’s and Porsches, however his heyday and grandest time was when famed engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov hired him to drive the Corvette. From 1956 to 1962, driving a Corvette, Thompson would win five national championships for Chevrolet. After moving over to Ford and winning more championships, the Flying Dentist would retire from full-time racing after ’68 – although he did race part-time on and off for another few years.
Not a duffer by any stretch, Thompson was a pretty good golfer as well and stayed active late in his life while retired in Florida. Dr. Richard Thompson was one of the real racers of history and will be forever remembered in the annals of the sportscar world and as one of the greats in Corvette motorsports.
Daryle W. Hier