Murder in the Fast Lane
Back then, Goodwin had a beautiful wife named Diane and all the perks money and fame could buy. "We traveled a lot, diving, snow skiing. I had a fairy princess wife and we just did wonderful things together," he tells Lagattuta.
Bill Wilson, a retired cop-turned stadium manager, remembers what made Mike Goodwin so special. "Michael was highly competitive, an excitable individual. It was an, 'I can do anything' kind of an attitude," he says.
He got things done, just like Mickey Thompson.
Mickey's son Danny remembers how in 1978 his father transformed the car racing world, by bringing outdoor auto racing indoors. "He said 'I want to bring 25 million pounds of dirt into your stadium. I want to run these pickup trucks up through your bleachers and back down. I want to jump them 70 feet back into the floor,'" Danny recalls.
Even Det. Lillienfeld admits, when it came to thinking big, Goodwin and Mickey had the same DNA. "In some ways very similar personalities in that they were, I don't know if bull-headed is the right term, but very much knew what they wanted," he says.
It was only a matter of time before Goodwin and Mickey would go into business together and it was all about the dirt: each man was paying a fortune hauling tons of dirt in to the stadium for his own race. They decided to split the cost by bringing in one load of dirt, racing motor bikes one night and cars the next.
Asked what being in business with Mickey Thompson was like, Goodwin says, "It was truly hell from the first day."
And Mickey would have agreed, according to his sister Collene. "Mickey called me on the phone and he said, 'Goodwin has stolen $50,000 from me.' And I said, 'What!' And he said, 'Collene, I think the guy's a crook.'"
Shirley Brown, Mickey's personal assistant and bookkeeper, says she soon began to get complaints from the company's outside contractors. "And that was the first indicator Goodwin was running off with Mickey's money," she says.
Goodwin denies stealing any of the partnership's money. Always willing to defend himself to 48 Hours, Goodwin insists the problem was that Mickey just wouldn't live up to the deal.
"Although Mickey had signed an agreement to turn all the decisions over to me, because we did recognize we couldn't have two bosses, that was not the case; he wanted to continue to run the show," Goodwin says.
Mickey went to court claiming Goodwin had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars straight out of their business; he won a $514,000 judgment, but Goodwin says he did not pay up. In fact, Det. Lillienfeld says Goodwin never paid a dime.
Instead, Goodwin declared bankruptcy, and appealed the ruling. It would drag on through the legal system for two years before Goodwin's appeal was shot down.
Mickey's family and friends say that's when Goodwin got ugly. "Mickey called me on the phone and he says 'Sis, I'm really concerned.' I says 'What is the matter, Mick?' He says 'I'm afraid Goodwin is going to hurt my baby,' meaning Trudy. He says, 'Sis, I am telling you this guy is capable of it, and I feel it in my bones,'" Collene remembers.
"It would be phone calls and Mickey would say, 'Goddamn, Goodwin is at it again,' and the death threats were 'Get off my back,'" Shirley Brown recalls.
Death threats, one after the next. That's what those close to Mickey Thompson remember.
"I said, 'How are things going, Mike?' He said, 'Thompson is killing me, taking everything I got.' He says, 'I am going to take him out,'" Bill Wilson says.
But Goodwin denied that claim. "I did not tell Bill Wilson or anyone else I was going to take out Mickey Thompson and I didn't," he told 48 Hours in 2002.
But when 48 Hours saw him a few years later, his story seemed to change. "I am sure that dozens of guys, or hundreds of them in the racing world, including myself at one time or another is gonna say, 'I'm gonna take that guy down or out..,' now in motor cross racing that means you're gonna knock the guy down or push him off the track," Goodwin said.
"And so I said 'C'mon Mike, nobody wins that way.' I said, 'He's dead and you're in prison.' And he said, 'No, they won't catch me. I'm too smart for that,'" Wilson recalls.
But soon after that conversation with Wilson, Mickey and Trudy were shot dead in their driveway.
And Det. Lillienfeld says he believes Goodwin is behind the killings, and that he was responsible for hiring those hit men.
"Michael Goodwin is a four letter word. He's evil. He's evil all the way through," Collene tells 48 Hours.
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