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Time Until Speed Week 2020
Akron native Art Arfons, land-speed record breaker 'Green Monster' builder icon in international drag racing

Direct Link to orginal Article Here

By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sportswriter

Akron native and international drag racing icon Art Arfons died Monday at age 81.

Mr. Arfons, famous for building cars called ''Green Monsters'' with his brother, Walt, was a three-time world land-speed record holder.

He also held the Unlimited Drag Racing Record and was a champion tractor puller.

''They built everything themselves,'' Mr. Arfons' nephew, Walter Arfons, said. ''They were sort of self-made guys. They didn't buy anything. They were just notorious for that around Ohio.

''He liked to live life dangerously.''

The brothers began drag racing at a track near the Rubber Bowl, but soon moved on to bigger stages and became stars in the mid-1950s.

Art went on to race his ''Green Monsters'' at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It was there he broke the
world record three times in the mid-1960s. He engaged in some famous battles with Craig Breedlove, and the world record passed between the rivals six times in two years. Mr. Arfons was clocked at 576.553 mph the last time he held the record.

''He was just a remarkable man,'' said Tom Melody, a retired Beacon Journal sports editor and writer. ''I think it's really, really strange that Evel Knievel and Arfons are going in virtually the same week. They had some similarities. Arfons did some things that were as fearless as anything Knievel did.''

Mr. Arfons, who served in the Navy during World War II, was also known for his contribution to the development of two important safety devices that have since been made mandatory for drag racers: the overhead roll cage and the parachute.

He was inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America, International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, National Tractor Puller Association Hall of Fame and the Summit County Sports Hall of Fame.

At age 13, in 1939, he raced in Akron's All-American Soap Box Derby.

''He was a good person,'' Melody said. ''He certainly was a person this town could be proud of.''

Mr. Arfons leaves his wife of 60 years, June; son, Tim; daughter, Dusty Spraggins; brother, Walt, and sister, Lou Wolfe.

Friends may call from from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Kucko-Anthony-Kertesz Funeral Home, 1990 S. Main St., where services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday.

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