walt arfons wingfoot express



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Samuel Hawley is a writer of narrative nonfiction and fiction. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.


walt art arfons feed mill akron
An Arfons Mill calendar from the late 1950s showing Walt Arfons (right) and Art Arfons with three of their dragsters (courtesy Tom Joswick, Walt and Art's nephew)

tom green wingfoot express
Tom Green working on the body of the first Wingfoot Express in his garage in Wheaton, Illinois
(courtesy Tom Groh, Tom Green's stepson)

tom green wingfoot express
Tom Green with the Wingfoot Express in his Wheaton, Illinois garage. "Tom had no intention of driving the car in the first place,"  Green's stepson, Tom Groh recently wrote me in an e-mail. "When the car was finished, Walter took it to a drag strip in Detroit to test and the driver cracked up the car; went through a cyclone fence across a highway in a forest. Tom agreed to fix the car if Walter would let him drive.If you look closely at the color picture, the car was a sky blue. After it was cracked up , it was more of a darker blue. Hope this puts to rest that Tom built the car along with Walter. Also, if you look at pictures of the car,  'Body by Tom Green' is written right on the car. When Tom did the interview for the TV piece, he gave Walter credit for building the car. I was there when the man interviewed Tom for about two hours. Tom talked about Walter quite a lot but in the ten-minute final piece that was shown on TV a lot got edited out about Walter. That's what got them upset, that Tom was getting too much credit." (courtesy Tom Groh)

walt arfons tom green wingfoot express
Walt's first Wingfoot Express, an LSR jet car, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, 1964 (courtesy Tom Mayenschein)

walt arfons goodyear wingfoot express
Walt Arfons (left) with Wingfoot Express driver Tom Green, 1964 (courtesy Walt Arfons)

walt arfons wingfoot express
Walt in his Pickle Road workshop outside Akron, building his Wingfoot Express rocket car, 1964-65 (courtesy Goodyear Tire and Rubber)

walt arons wingfoot express goodyear
The Wingfoot Express rocket car in its original 15-JATO-bottle configuration, Bonneville Salt Flats, 1965 (courtesy Goodyear Tire and Rubber)

walt arfons bobby tatroe wingfoot express
Walt Arfons (left) and Wingfoot rocket car driver Bobby Tatroe (right) confer with an unidentified man (courtesy Goodyear Tire and Rubber)

arfons bonneville wingfoot express
Walt and Bobby with a beefed-up Wingfoot, Bonneville, 1965: 15 JATO bottles were not enough; it now has 25 (courtesy Walt Arfons)

walt terry craig arfons bonneville wingfoot express
Walt Arfons (center) with his sons Terry (left) and Craig (right). Craig would be killed 24 years later going after the water speed record (courtesy Goodyear Tire and Rubber)

hawley speed duel

copyright 2011 Samuel Hawley