Art Arfons, Three-Time Land Speed Record Holder, Dead At Age 81

Art Arfons, the three-time land speed record holder from 1964-1965 with his "Green Monster" series of jet-cars, passed away yesterday at the age of 81. In addition, Arfons was also known for trying to make drag racing as safe as possible with the development of two important safety devices that have since been made mandatory for drag racers: the overhead roll cage and the parachute. Here's more from his obit in the Akron Beacon Journal:

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.''

We're glad others are noting that Arfons is as much an important part of the history of hoonage as Knievel was. We mourn both losses. (Hat tip to Myron! ) [via Akron Beacon Journal ]