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A legend passed, and somehow I missed it.... :: Archived
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JG300-Ascout
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Joined: Jan 05, 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:58 am
Post subject: A legend passed, and somehow I missed it....

Back in December, a giant of speed left this earth and it escaped my notice. Art Arfons, at 81, challenger and holder of land speed record and all around speed freak (father of many a "Green Monster") passed. I had the privilege to meet him and see him run one of his cars (pictured below) and he was one of the most humble and unassuming, but "driven" people you can imagine.

I took the pic at Bristol Dragway (aka "Thunder Valley") in 1970 and this was coincidentally the first race Don Garlits drove after having blown most of his foot off at the Lyons Dragway transmission debacle earlier that year (in the same car, sewn back together after it came apart in two pieces in the now famous picture). That's Arfons in the picture with his back to the camera and resting his foot on the tire. I was standing next to Garlits and Chris "The Greek" Karamesines and overheard "Big Daddy" say to The Greek in a low voice..."you've gotta' be out of your gawd damn mind to get into one of those things". Pretty remarkable for a guy with his own experiences, expecially the recent one.

Arfons was a true pioneer, who ran a jet car with a GE J79 jet engine that he'd gotten surplus when it was supposed to still be the hot ticket and classified, but escaped the attention of whoever in the gov't sold it and there was a big stink about his having it at the time (which explains the last lines in the obituary, which specifies a J97, but I believe that's a typo and it was the then extant J79)). He'd run drag cars with two rear tires and Merlin engines prior to jets when his relationship with his brother, Walt, was better, before their competition and relationship soured.

Arfons was unlike anyone else who ever pursued speed, a backyard mechanic type who just loved the sport. When he went for the record on water, he took the wheels off the car in my pic and just mounted the same "car" on pontoons and made boat out of it. He wasn't successful, but that was the way he approached things, he just tried it anyway and sometimes it worked. I really admired the guy. They don't make many like him....

The obit:

www.timesonline.co.uk/...053472.ece

"....Arfons was buried with wrenches in his hands, accompanied by a jar of Bonneville salt and the manual, now declassified, to the General Electric J97 jet engine"

Bristol, TN, 1970:

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Shadow_Bshwackr
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Joined: Jan 21, 2005
Posts: 6988
Location: Central Illinois, USA
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:37 pm
Post subject: Re: A legend passed, and somehow I missed it....

Sad

Being an old drag racer from those times, I remember him although I must admit, I've never met him.

Thanks for the update, that brought back some fond memories... Smile
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