American Jet Cars
Stories & Comments
Jon Doeringer
 Bar


Hi,

I came across your site today and found it enjoyable and a great tribute. These were true men of iron. I am not familiar with your father's name, but would like to relate my story about Walt Arfons.

I was about 16 when I met Walt at a Goodyear store (in Cleveland) where he had his Wingfoot Express LSR machine on display (and wheel alignment haha). I spent some time talking to him and was invited to go to a drag strip with him.

What was the name of that strip? I'm sure I wouldn't have been allowed to drive ALL THE WAY to Akron, so he may have driven to my house to pick me up. What a day! I got to hang out with the group and ask a lot of dumb questions.

I took the old Super8 camera and got between the two cars (he owned both, but only had his name on one to make it look more competitive) and was knocked over when the afterburners kicked in. And where are those film reels???

We talked on the phone some and I visited the "barn" a few times. The last time he had his rocket car almost finished. In the midst of this old building, with straw and blueprints strewn about the floor was his latest creation. He asked if I wanted to go to Bonneville with him, but it fell through at the last minute when one of the vehicles broke down and space became limited.

I can't believe the kindness he showed to some dumb car-crazy kid. I got two trips to the drags with him. Met his wife, but none of the sons. I remember driving by his house and enviously looking at the hot cars his sons had (GTO's, etc.). while I had an old TR-3 (and how I miss that old car!). And I think of Walt from time to time. The pioneer, the man of iron.

I was sickened when I heard of his son's death, though I didn't hear about it until a few years later. A few years ago I saw a clip of his son's last run. It looked like a home movie, much like what I shot of him. On the clip someone says "oh my god, no" or something like that. I always assume that was Walt. I saw a show about his brother (did they ever patch things up?) and Walt was interviewed.

It made me get on the Internet and look him up. I didn't realize he was still alive. I found two phone numbers for him, but no address. If you have one (or email), I would love to write to him and thank him for his time.

I found your site while reading a Formula 1 site about driver's deaths. The list was evolving into different driving disciplines, and I thought someone from the speed record arena should be mentioned, so I found your site while researching "Arfons".

Thank you for your site. When I saw the film about Art, I couldn't believe what a rascal he was. That is what I thought when I saw your father's picture.

Thanks,

Jon Doeringer


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