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Dr. Dick Thompson was a

Washington D.C. dentist whose

hobby, in the 1950s, was racing sports

cars. Actually, it was more than a

hobby – it was closer to a fixation.

Back then, sports car racing was an

amateur sport. Thompson bought fast

cars and was willing to travel to places

like Sebring and Daytona and other

tracks along the east coast to race

them. And he was good. He was called

“The Flying Dentist” and his talent

and experience got him factory

Corvette rides, a spot on Brigg Cun-

ningham’s team and he went to Le-

Mans with Ford’s 1966 GT40 team

and drove for Shelby American’s 1967

Trans-Am team. After Dr. Thompson

retired, he moved to Florida and

passed away two years ago at 94. A life

well lived.

With the name available, we can

think of no one better to wear it than

SAAC member Dr. Ernie Nagamatsu

of Los Angeles. He purchased his

Cobra, CSX2203 in 1978. Its first

owner was friends with legendary

racer and movie stunt driver Max Bal-

chowsky, famous for his one-off modi-

fied sports car “Old Yeller” which was

the terror of Southern California in

the late 1950s and early 1960s. He had

Balchowsky modify the car and add

some competition features.

After Nagamatsu purchased the

car in 1978 he took it to noted Cobra

expert Dave Dralle to prepare it for

vintage racing. An aluminum hardtop

was added (it came from CSX2138, a

factory team car). He started compet-

ing in vintage races in 1984 at tracks

like Riverside, Willow Springs and

Monterey and found that he enjoyed

it. As he gained experience, he began

to travel to events farther and farther

away. His racing resume expanded to

Coronado, Sears Point, Road America,

and eventually to England where he

drove in the Goodwood Revival Meet-

ing Tourist Trophy, co-driving with

Lyn St. James and Scooter Patrick. He

has also taken the car to Australia and

New Zealand where he and his wife


Fall 2016 62

– Rick Kopec