American Jet Cars
Stories & Comments
Dave Carlson

I just found this web sight. I knew your father very well, and was very honored to call him my friend.

My name is Dave Carlson, in 1960 my parents rented a home from Walt Arfons. In fact our house was right behind the shop. I was in awe of the surroundings. Craig, Walters younger son and I grew up together. I spent every moment that I could in that shop.

I have the upmost respect and love for Walt Arfons. I had the chance to see, help work on and travel with every creation Walt built. The first jet dragster, Green Monster #16, Land Speed Cars Wingfoot Express 1 & 2, The Glass Glaze Avenger (STP Special) etc.

I saw the transformation of Walter driving to a young man named Doug Rose given the chance to take the wheel. Walt wouldn't trust just anyone to drive his cars, and your father fit his expectations. Right from the start I really liked your father. I was there for his first ride in the Avenger. I was there with the funny cars, and was at the Akron Airport when he test drove our steam car and went airborne halfway through it.

As I said I had formed a very special relationship with Walt and Gertie and Craig. Walt would allow me to go along on many trips to different dragstrips.
I would do what ever I could to help. Pack parachutes, fuel the cars, help with starting line procedures, I loved it.

Your father had a great sense of humor. Always in a good mood, and always had time to talk with me. My father was a body man and helped Walt in the body work with all the vehicles built after #16 Green Monster. My dad went along with Walt and everyone to Bonneville both times, (I couldn't go due to school). In fact if you have a photo of everyone standing in front of the Rocket Wingfoot, my dad is on the left, wearing glasses and if you look close enough he is holding a Cornwall Tool wrench in his hand.

Robert (as I used to call him) spent many evenings having dinner with myself and my parents. I have so many stories about your father. He was a good man, and I am sorry to hear of his passing.

Jet Car racing was hard back then. Walt created it, he built the first jet dragster, and the first jet funny car. He gave his heart for his sport. I am really proud to say I was there. I have had the chance to know them all, Doug Rose, your father, Jim Taylor, Teddie Austin, Freddie Sibley, Bob Motz, what a time we had. Had the chance of meeting and speaking with Craig Breedlove when he came to Akron for a visit.

I was with your dad once coming back from a track in Baltimore, he saw a car carrier broke down on the road side, we needed to get more ramps for new trailers and Robert and I "borrowed" some ramps from the unattended trailer. We paid the price about 5 miles later when the truck engine blew up. We had to call Walter, he and Jim Taylor drove out and towed us back home, all on back roads. Took forever.

We had a roman candle fight with Doug and Marvin Schwartz at a truck stop in Hagerstown Maryland. Bobby installed aircraft running lights as "bright" lights in the truck. Any time someone wouldn't dim his lights, your dad would flash them with the landing lights, it was like the sun coming out.

I could go on and on about your dad. I hope you get more people to respond and tell you more about him. I have had the chance to know and respect him from the day he started working for Walt. My whole family loved him.

If I can every help you with anything about your dad please let me know. It brought back so many memories looking at the photos you have posted. The only one I am in is the one where Doug is taking care of your dads leg after the accident with the steam car at the Akron Airport. I am the one in the plaid shirt (that's all you can see) with my arm around your dad.

Be proud of him, he was a good man, but then again you should know that.

Dave Carlson

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