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Dean Thompson, 53; Sprint Car Racer Won Three Titles

October 08, 2003|Shav Glick | Times Staff Writer

Dean Thompson, one of Southern California's most popular and successful sprint car drivers, died Tuesday of a ruptured aneurysm at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance. He was 53.

Thompson won California Racing Assn. championships in 1980, '81 and '82, and won 111 races in his career, a record 103 in CRA competition. His races with Jimmy Oskie and Bubby Jones at Ascot Park were legendary in an era when the dirt-throwing sprinters were the track's main attraction.

He won his first CRA main event April 27, 1974, and his last one Nov. 12, 1985, in the season-ending Peabody Classic at Ascot.

"I will never drive again; I just walked away from it," he said in an interview a few years later. "I won five of my last six races so it was a good time to quit."

But he did come back. In 1996, 10 years after retiring, he drove in 10 races, finishing second in one.

All of Thompson's championships were won in Bruce Bromme-prepared cars. His father had been a mechanic on Bromme's Indy cars and sprint cars when Dean began racing quarter-midgets when he was 7.

"I had the racing bug from the first day I can remember," he said.

Thompson, who owned a family glass business in Harbor City, had a history of aneurysm problems, his sister, Barbara Thompson, said. A resident of Redondo Beach, he will be cremated. A memorial service is being planned.

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