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The Mickey Thompson Murder

by Chris Martin

Bradbury, California is the richest burg in the eastern San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County. It's an exclusive community, reserved for got-rocks of varying shades and it looks it. From the 210 Freeway to its west, Bradbury rises out of the rocks and weeds of Irwindale and the dull suburbs of Duarte like a giant Christmas fruitcake. It's a big flat topped hill overlooking the plainer end of the SGV, and is high enough in the air to be above the smog and the eyesight of the proletarians below.

Thirteen years ago, August of 1988, that was a good thing for two bicyclists. At dawn (on August 16, I think), they pedalled along one stretch of the over 10 miles of private, gated Bradbury streets and came upon the residence of auto racing giant Mickey Thompson and his wife, Trudy. Trudy was in the couple's van parked in the driveway of their mansion and Mickey was making his way out the front door to just that spot. The bicyclists dismounted, approached Thompson and shot him several times in the upper torso. His hysterical wife exited the van as Mickey hit the ground, and she was also cut down in a hail of bullets.

To this date, the case rates as one of the country's bigger murder mysteries, having been showcased on Robert "Eliot Ness and the Untouchables" Stack's "Unsolved Mysteries" TV show and John Walsh's "America's Most Wanted."

Early this August, the L.A. County Sheriffs arrested a man who was a former business partner of Thompson's and suspect numero uno, Michael Goodwin. The 56-year-old Goodwin had been a rock n' roll promoter, working for the Carpenters and Janis Joplin, and when those enterprises dried up, he began promoting outdoor motocross shows and soon graduated in 1972 to stadiums and arenas. It was said that by the end of the decade, Goodwin's stadium motocross shows at the L.A. Coliseum outdrew the annual USC-UCLA football game, a sports evergreen in L.A. County.

His get-together with Thompson proved to be a stormy one and was terminated in the most brutal of terms.

Thompson, who was already involved in promoting off-road racing shows, began using Goodwin's approach and started holding these events in arenas and the like. Unfortunately, in the early 1980s, Thompson's wife developed health problems and he soon began shopping his entertainment business around. Goodwin became the obvious person to approach.

In 1984, the two struck a deal in which Thompson and Goodwin would join up; Thompson retaining 30-percent ownership and a small salary in the new combo. Goodwin, on the other hand, would get 70-percent, a $300,000 salary, and an escape clause that would allow him to back out after 18 months.

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