500 MPH (Bonneville, 1964)

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In October of ’64, Walt Arfons makes his presence felt at the Salt Flats with his Wingfoot Express. With Tom Green pushing the pedals and pulling the parachutes, this bulbous, bulky flounder of a ‘liner reels off a new record of 413.2 mph at Bonneville… three days later Art Arfons and the Green Monster turns 434 mph … Breedlove clocks 468 … and so it goes, a month long game of ping pong with a target speed of 500 mph.

Walt Arfons makes the mod to his wienie roaster (now dubbed Wingfoot Express II), modifying the thrust from his jet engine with JATO (jet assisted takeoff) rockets. The car is now denied sanction by United States Auto Club timing, the American sub-contractor and corollary to the FIA, because of the alteration. Just as the jets had initially caught the powers that be off guard, so had the rockets. The technology was ahead of the intellectual capabilities of the sanctioning bodies…

On the 15th, Breedlove strikes paydirt – and a telephone pole. After bursting through the 500 mph barrier on the first lap, Craig turns his SOA around and is chewing up black line in supreme fashion, easily generating enough thrust to backup his provisional record run. Through the speed trap, however, chaos envelopes the vehicle: At 539 mph the parachutes shred like CIA phone records and, like a domino, Breedlove’s brakes melt into goo-goo muck. The barreling machine is vacuuming up salt like June Cleaver on benzedrine, and begins swerving off axis from the infinite black stripe burnt into the salt and continues barreling towards an imminent peril. After the rampaging bull of a streamliner snaps a telephone pole into kindling, it hits an embankment which launches the race car and dunks ‘er into a brackish brine canal. Breedlove swims to the surface and climbs onto the stabilizing fin at the stern of his streamliner, the only portion of the vehicle not completely submerged. “For my next act, I will set myself a-fire,” a wet but euphoric Breedlove tells stunned camera crews. His two-way average speed is 526.61 mph.

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