April 27, 2020
Art Arfons was the world's land speed record holder three times in the 1960s. He was the first man over 150mph on a drag strip, he was a world's champion tractor puller, and he did it all by himself, using his brain, his hands and very few dollars.
This episode of the Dork-O-Motive podcast celebrates the life and times of this amazing America, a man some argue is the greatest hot rodder of all time. The story is told through period stories, period audio, and interviews with guys like Humpy Wheeler, author Samuel Hawley, historian Bret Kepner, and Art's son Tim Arfons. This is one of the most in-depth studies on the life of a man who was so brave and brilliant, you'll be blown away by the end of the show.
Arfons is a personal hero to anyone who has ever taken on bucks with their brain and won. From his drag strip exploits to his triumphs and failures on the Bonneville Salt Flats, we hope you enjoy the story of this legendary man and the legendary machines that he created.
This is his story.
April 23, 2020
In the 1960s New York City had a problem. The buildings and growth of Gotham had outstripped the ability of the fire department to battle the potentially massive blazes they might confront. This all came to a head on a windy day on Staten Island. The massive blaze wrought destruction on the community and is still spoken about today. Black Saturday prompted a brilliant mind to approach the city with a fire fighting engineering exercise that seemed like something out of a book.
The proposed was a pumper engine was powered by a Deltic locomotive engine, could throw 10,000 gallons of water per minute. The pumper had a cannon with 600ft of range, could simultaneously feed five independent pumping units at a time, and drew water from the sea up to mile away while fighting fires in the city during its life.
This hulking beast was a massive success working for more 20 years, answering thousands of calls, and providing the frontal assault needed to battle fires large and small in places where getting water was an issue and where the lives of brave men were at stake.
A beautiful beast!
April 20, 2020
It seems incredible by the standards of 2020, but the 1903 Paris to Madrid Race was such an incalculable calamity and had amassed such a loss of life that it was cancelled after the first day. In an era when the most powerful cars in the world made less than 100hp how could this happen? Too many people, too few rules, too little knowledge of what these machines were capable of, and ultimately no precedents to follow.
One day of racing set motorsports back nearly three decades, claimed the lives of internationally famous businessmen, soldiers, and kids. Four classes of cars scheduled to leave a Parisian palace at 3:30am turned into a spectacle the likes of which the world had never seen before and was fearful of ever seeing again.
Through the sounds of the cars that were there, the first hand accounts of competitors, and the news reporting that was done around the world, we tell the story of the 1903 Paris to Madrid Race, or as it was known then, "The Race To Death".
April 17, 2020
The Vulcan Shuttle is one of the most infamous cars in drag racing history. A virtually stock bodied VW Beetle with a solid fuel rocket engine for power, it was built and campaigned by Raul Cabrera and Ron Poole. Ultimately Poole was killed in the car but only after several seasons of successful exhibition competition and more than 100 runs.
The history of the car is incredible and the men behind this wild creation were brilliant. Too often dismissed as a Darwin Award winner, this is the real story of the brains and the guys who designed and built the first solid propellant rocket powered car in United States history and raced it all over the country.
The Vulcan Shuttle story ends badly but not in the way you think. We believe you'll have a newfound respect for the ingenuity and talent of the men who built and raced this machine after listening to their story.
April 13, 2020
It was called, "The Race of Two Worlds" and it was one of the neatest racing spectacles ever devised. The premise was simple. American Indianapolis racers vs the best European Formula One teams on the speed oval at Monza, Italy. The speed course at Monza was a near identical copy of Indianapolis Motor Speedway but with increased banking. The course was so similar it was nicknamed, "Monzanapolis".
Accepting the challenge to run what would certainly be the fastest and most dangerous race in the history of the automobile, a brave team of American drivers and car owners shipped their machines to Italy, ready to take on the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, and even high performing endurance sports cars from Jaguar.
This was truly a clash of cultures, a clash of engineering, and a clash of horsepower. Through vintage audio and race details, host Brian Lohnes gives you the whole story behind the story!
April 9, 2020
Sometimes all the wrongs do make a right and this story is proof. Two guys with the wrong car, the wrong background, and the wrong approach somehow managed to break a record that had stymied the best engineers, had killed the best racers, and had challenged the most famous racing series' in the world in 1961. Bob Osiecki and Art Malone teamed up to set the closed course speed record at over 180mph at Daytona.
They used an old used up Indy car with a supercharged Dodge 413 engine built by Ed Iskendarian and Malone conjured up driving skills no one knew he had. As a drag racer Malone was awesome, a lifelong friend of Don Garlits he set the record on Garlits' car after a bad fire in the late 1950s.
Bob Osiecki's engineering brilliance, ability to call in help from Georgia Tech, and trust in his speed demon driver all resulted in one of the neatest automotive stories ever.
April 6, 2020
It was the racing party to end all racing parties and it happened at the 1974 US Grand Prix in an area of Watkins Glenn International Raceway known as the Bog. A muddy area that was virtually cheap to inhabit all weekend long with no rules and less security turned into a booze and drug fueled hellscape of crashed cars, crashed people, and ultimately a burning Greyhound bus. It is a story of fun, of escalating craziness, and of a scene that literally reached its zenith on a hot weekend at The Glen.
The contrasting story here is that the 1974 US Grand Prix was a wild race where Emerson Fittipaldi locked up his first Formula One world championship. There was, like so often at this time in history death in the race as well.
The whole story is told through the recorded history in newspapers, racing magazines and more. You'll be reminding yourself that this is a real thing that happened multiple times during the telling of this story.
They truly partied like hell.
April 2, 2020
This is the awesome and improbably story of how a 23-year old speed shop counter worker became the last guy to ever win top fuel at a national event in a front engine dragster. From the car's history with Don Prudhomme to the bizarre raceday turns of events that made it all happen, host Brian Lohnes tells you the story and gives you the details that you don't hear anywhere else.
In 1971 when Don Garlits perfected the rear engine dragster and won multiple national events, the world knew that a new era had dawned. By 1972 it was a full on flood of rear engine cars making the slingshots look all but obsolete. As the racing gods are want to do, though. A final curveball would be thrown at the sport's heavy hitters on a strange weekend in Montreal, Canada.
This is one of the most fun drag racing stories ever. Long live the dinosaurs!
March 30, 2020
The story of Turbonique, the most insane speed parts company in the history of cars is amazing. it involves a NASA consultant, an obsession with hot rodding, dangerous fuels, deception, mail fraud, and prison time. It also involves rocket powered automotive speed parts that were sold to the general public for the span of a half-decade, many of which propelled cars down drag strips to astonishingly quick elapsed times. Bolt a thrust rocket to your go-kart? Sure. Bolt a rocket axle to your Chevelle? Sure. Crash at 150mph? It happened.
Here's a detailed look at the Turbonique story with period audio, quotes fro magazines, quotes from court documents, and some of the very words that landed company founder Gene Middlebrooks in federal prison on mail-fraud charges.
A story so weird that it HAS to be true.
March 25, 2020
There are strange days at the drag strip and then there are days you wish you never went to the drag strip. One of those days occurred at the 1975 NHRA LeGrand National at Sanair Super Speedway outside of Montreal, Canada. This was the only NHRA National event contested in Canada and was run at Sanair into the 1990s.
Anyway, this is the funny and semi-painful story of a pre-race ceremony gone wrong, a classic airplane, a beauty queen, and one fed up NHRA competition director. If you can believe it, they did not just have one airplane incident on this day but rather two of them!
Truly one of the funniest drag racing stories you'll ever run into...whoops, bad choice of words.