American Jet Cars
Stories & Comments
Walt Arfons
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This is info I got from Walt "Poppy" Arfons when I asked him what he wanted people to know, fall of 2000.

"I started racing in '52 and soon had the Allison cars Art and I built. All we had for paint was this Oliver farm tractor green and when we showed up at the track with these cars they just started calling them the green monsters, and that's where that name started.

Some of the race tracks didn't have much shut down room and when I started running the jet car (I had the first one ya know, 1960) before we used chutes, they had sand pits or even nets to stop me, didn't always work. I would set a flare where I wanted to shut off, so I could get stopped !

The first run of the first jet car was Aug. 6 1960.

We were the first to use the dragster, or sling shot style frames and parachutes.

I went to the Athens airbase ( in '58 or '59 ) for fuel and while I was there a plane landed and used a chute to stop and that's where that idea started. Of course I melted several before I figured out how and where to mount them out of harms way !

I used as much of the plane in the car as I could even the shocks and springs !

I did the first car burning at Indy one year. I was scheduled to run there and it rained, not real bad but bad enough to stop the races. The idea just popped into my head, I told the track people to find a junk car and haul it to the center field. Then I chained it to the back of the jet car and burned it to the ground, it was a real crowd pleaser to say the least !

When Cobo Hall opened I had the jet car in the first two auto shows there.

We ran the first 150 mph and 180 mph in the 1/4 mile.

I hit a tree doing 220 mph one time, maybe that's why I have problems with my legs now !

In '67 Chrysler gave us some new cars without engines, a Dart, Cuda, and Charger so we put jet engines in them ! Those were the first ever full bodied jet cars. All the lights worked, headlights, turn signals, and brake lights. Doors, trunk and hood all opened and the windows even rolled down. They had the best heaters in them. We also made the first ever full body fiberglass jet cars, a Mercury Comet and a Camero.

Our Land Speed car was the first rocket powered car to run on the salt. Bobby saw 605 mph at one time during a run, but that's not official.

There is so much I can't remember but if I do I will send it along.

This is a wonderful thing you've done for your father, he would be proud. He was the best ya know, no fear of speed or power. I miss him deeply."

Walt Arfons


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