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A souped-up salute to the Armed Forces

Bob Thompson and his crew are showing off his NHRA funny car today at the Armed Forces Day Parade in Bremerton. - Brad Camp/staff photo
Bob Thompson and his crew are showing off his NHRA funny car today at the Armed Forces Day Parade in Bremerton.
— image credit: Brad Camp/staff photo

Two brothers dedicate lives, checkbooks to honoring those who serve.

KINGSTON — In Bob Thompson’s 68 years he has never served in any branch of U.S. military service.

Yet he devotes his life and finances to building a military-logo emblazoned NHRA funny car — the fastest kind car in the world — to honor all who serve.

Funny cars accelerate to 300-400 miles per hour in less than five seconds on a quarter-mile track.

Compare the funny car’s 8,000 horsepower engine to that of an average car’s measly 150-200 horsepower. His funny car is “like a jet airplane,” Thompson said.

Just to race once on the track, funny cars consume about 14 gallons of nitromethane fuel for the burnout to warm the tires, back up to the starting line and race. Each gallon of nitromethane costs $90.

Bob said the cost of a single race is upwards of $1 million as engines are rebuilt after each race.

“The car is our way of thanking the men and women who served our country past, present and future,” he said.

Bob, who owns My Girl Drive In in Kingston, has a number of spiffed out, tricked out cars but this one holds a special place in his heart.

His brother, Harlan, 62, served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Harlan, who has raced top-fuel funny cars for more than 30 years, was sponsored by Budweiser and had an 80 percent win record in the 16 years he raced throughout Europe. Each year he visits overseas troops with his race cars.

With Harlan’s help, Bob and his race team enterprise have tricked out the U.S. Armed Forces funny car and will show it off today during the Armed Forces Parade in Bremerton.

Their mission: “Operation Salute” — achieving positive recognition for the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I can’t take it with me when I go but I can sure thank the men and women while I’m here on Earth,” Bob said.

“This family has a long history of wanting to go fast,” said crew member Steve Rice, adding that Bob is a drag racer in his own right. Bob owns multiple trophies but rarely speaks of it.

“Their dad had all the tools and mechanic you-name-it type stuff,” Rice said. “That’s where we learned how to drive and work on cars. It’s where all us boys wanted to be.”

The crew said they are always looking for new members and ... cheerleaders.

For those lucky enough, Bob might extend an invitation to sit inside the funny car, although they would have to take a tire off, as funny cars are built to the driver’s fit.

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