The trial to determine who caused the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson has begun in the Los Angeles area. The defendant, Michael Goodwin, who is being represented by a public defender and has been in prison for the past five years, still claims his innocence. Yet more than 18 years after the gruesome gangland-style murders in the driveway of MT's luxury estate, thousands of hours of police work and who knows how many phone calls and in-person interviews, there is no other suspect. Repeat: There is no other suspect.
We've been looking forward to this trial since the day of the murders. I worked for Mickey, assisted in the PR and marketing for the very first OFF-ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP GRAND PRIX at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In fact, I named the event and got a $1,000 bonus from Mickey for doing so. (Photo - Older shot of MT and Trudy, enjoying themselves Southwest-style).
Mickey was one-of-a-kind, the automotive world's PT Barnum of the 20th century, a guy so self-confident (and egotistical) that he would set his personal airplane in 'autopilot', set an alarm, and take a nap while at the controls, until the alarm woke him up before landing. He had immense amounts of energy, a man with 'an unquiet mind' constantly thinking and on-the-go, sleeping for only 2-3 hours a night. Unlike one of his contemporaries, Carroll Shelby, MT was not only a great race car driver like Carroll, he was also a self-taught mechanical and engineering genius, developer of the first 'rail dragsters' still in use today.
His wife, Trudy, made sure that Mickey got all the monies which had been coming to him for decades from Mobil Oil, General Motors, and scores of other sponsors, many of which had short-changed Mickey all his working life. Thanks to Trudy, Mickey became the multi-millionaire he had always been --- But he had never counted the money and really known his personal worth until Trudy got his accounts in order. They were really made for each other, the strengths of each compensating for their own weaknesses.
When it came to drag racing, Indy racing and off-road racing, MT was a pioneer who never stopped developing new products. His use of water-filled barrels at the LA Coliseum as safety devices was a first, and their use continues to this day (the development of those kinds of safety barrels was also done contemporaneously by the legendary Mercedes-Benz racer and safety engineer, John Fitch). Mick developed the first huge swing arm rear suspension systems used throughout off-roading today, around the world, from Baja to Dakar. He'd fire-up his buggy and then blast through the canyons which backed right up to his home to test his latest inventions and developments. In his home were thousands of feet of raw film of almost every off-road race he had ever been in --- Off-road and drag-racing legends such as poster artist Tom Hunnicutt worked there, too, some of them involved in creating a feature-length film worthy of MT's imprint and style ... which was WFO (which was what I wanted to call the film --- "The WFO World of Mickey's Thompson". By the way, WFO = "Wide Fucking Open", which is where Mick kept the throttle on anything he was doing.
Mick was instrumental in creating SEMA, SCORE and even the NHRA to an extent.
I also knew Michael Goodwin fairly well. I'll say a lot more about him as the trial unfolds. Suffice to say that from the first moment I heard about the murders, about 4 hours after they occurred, I never suspected anyone but Goodwin as they person behind them. (Photo - Michael Goodwin).
On the trial's first day (11-6), the prosecutors laid out a terrible, horrible tale of revenge and murder, detailing the execution-style blood-thirsty murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson. Goodwin's attorney seemed to be planning to attack the police and their focus on only one suspect (in spite of the fact that only one suspect was ever in their crosshairs). The trial's second day (11-7), Goodwin's chauffer at the time of the murders and his own cousin testified against him.
Someone I met through work turned out to be one of the only witnesses to the actual crime itself. Can not say much more, but Mickey was a powerful bear of a man, and If there had been any possibility that he could have saved Trudy's life, even if not his own, it would have happened.
The murderers themselves were probably killed that same day, most likely by the same person who had planned and executed the entire horror.
The murders resulted in one positive. Mickey's sister, Colleen Campbell, founded what were among the very first "Victim's Right's" groups in the country. Colleen became politically active and mayor of San Juan Capistrano, CA. Her personal efforts resulted in MT's murder case staying open for all these years, and the creation of victim's rights groups around the nation and the world. Colleen's own son had been murdered, and when it happened to her brother, her favorite person in the world, she had to do something --- And, thankfully, she did! All the energy she has put into this entire affair may soon bear the results for which many of us have been hoping.