Art and Walt Arfons, Need for Speed

Art and Walt Arfons, Need for Speed


Art and Walt Arfons were brothers and drag racing pioneers who gained fame in the 1950s and 1960s for their innovative approach to high-speed racing.

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) (Source Samuel Hawley –

Art Arfons, born in 1926 in Ohio, was a mechanic by trade who became interested in drag racing as a teenager. He began building his own race cars in the early 1950s, and soon gained a reputation for his engineering and driving skills. In 1953, he set a new land speed record of 145.16 mph in his self-built “Green Monster” jet-powered car. He went on to set several more records and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Walt Arfons, born in 1916, was Art’s older brother and also a skilled mechanic and racer. He began building race cars in the 1940s and teamed up with Art in the 1950s to form the Akron-Canton Airport Dragway team. Together, they built and raced a series of jet-powered cars, including the “Green Monster” and the “Wingfoot Express,” which set new land speed records and became crowd favorites at drag strips around the country.

Tom Green working on the body of the first Wingfoot Express in his garage in Wheaton, Illinois
(courtesy Tom Groh, Tom Green’s stepson) (Source Samuel Hawley –

Although the Arfons brothers eventually went their separate ways in the 1960s and 1970s, they left an indelible mark on the sport of drag racing and high-speed racing in general. Their innovative designs and engineering approaches helped pave the way for the modern era of high-speed racing, and their names remain synonymous with speed, power, and daring.

If this article has peaked your interest I’d suggest listening to the excellent Dork-O-Motive podcast episode showcasing the Arfons Brothers

One thought on “Art and Walt Arfons, Need for Speed

  1. Bill McCoskey – I was born with a greasy wrench in my mouth instead of that silver spoon. My parents and their friends all said I could tell them make, model and even year of most cars by the time I was 5. I bought my first car [1948 Packard] at age 14, and by the time I had a driver's license, I had 2 more Packards. My education was electrical and electronics engineering, but also having ADHD, I realized it just wasn't going to be a good idea to sit behind a desk 5 days a week. After school, The US Army decided to draft me, sending me to mechanics school. On arrival in Central Germany, I discovered the attraction to rare and unusual European cars. Once back in the USA, I started my own antique car business, and I've owned, bought and sold over 1,500 vehicles to date. My interests tends to run towards the rare and unusual, 1930s thru 1970s. Auto Union SP1000 to Tatra V8, Studebaker Golden Hawk to Rolls-Royce Cloud I, 1938 Ford convertible sedan to 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, my tastes are pretty eclectic and wide ranging. My profile photo is me behind the wheel of the 1956 Packard Predictor, at the National Studebaker Museum.
    Bill McCoskey says:

    When I was a young teen I went to a World of Wheels show, and saw Art Arfons and his jet powered car [don’t remember which one]. He gave me a black & white folded brochure about the Arfons and the cars. I still have the brochure stuffed away somewhere.

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