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Tue, 17 Dec 2013, 18:46 PM

The Green Monster
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2013 Steve Reyes

It is time for a change of pace in my Legends Series, so how about something on a car that has become a legend in drag racing. The Green Monster #5 was a creation of the legendary Arfons Brothers, Walt and Art in 1955. The brothers on Pickle Road in Akron, Ohio, put together one of drag racing's unique race cars of its time, a war surplus Ranger aircraft engine stuffed into a home built frame. The 770 cubic inch engine was mounted upside down and backwards which enabled it to function in the "monsters chassis. This is the way the Green Monster #5 appeared at the first NHRA Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas where it turned the heads of all who passed by it.

The Green Monster
Then in 1956 and 1957, the monster underwent changes to its power plant , gone was the strange Ranger engine and in its place was a 1710-85 V12 Allison snuggled deep in the monster's chassis. Other changes included better roll cage supports and a tail fin was added to help control the car on its 1320 adventures. The car made many exhibition runs mainly in the Midwest or East Coast with Walt or Art at the helm.

One of the best Allison powered race teams in the USA was owned by Lee Pendleton who was based in Ashtabula, Ohio and made the Akron, Ohio Arfons Brothers an offer they couldn't refuse. So in late 1957 the Green Monster #5 went home to veteran racer Lee Pendleton. Lee owned the car until 1959 when he sold it to Charlie Hall of Tucson, Arizona. Just before sending the Green Monster #5 to its new home in the desert around Tucson, a young teen aged drag fan named Jon Rowley visited Pendleton's shop and admired the awesome Green Monster. However, the monster was headed to Arizona and Rowley figured he would never see it again.

Years later Rowley was attending the University of Arizona in Tucson and ran into Charlie Hall and he went to work with him. Now when the Green Monster had been sold all those years ago, Rowley had no idea where it was going. Imagine his delight when he found out that his Arizona friend Charlie Hall owned the famous Arfons Brother's creation. From that day when Rowley "found" the Green Monster, forty-eight years passed and on June 22, 2008, John Rowley purchased his favorite drag car of his youth from his friend Charlie Hall. Hall had carefully cared for and stored the car for all those years so when Rowley took delivery, the car was in beautiful condition. Jon then did his homework and researched his prize and came to the conclusion that this was the only Arfons piston driven aircraft engine still in existence. So for the past five years, Rowley has made the Green Monster #5 a true museum piece. If you ever get the chance to check out Rowley's "baby", it is a great piece of drag racing history.

If you wish to purchase prints of the photos below, they may be obtained by contacting us at Other photos may be viewed by following the link at the bottom of the page at

Either Walt or Art Arfons could be found in the cockpit of the
Green Monster #5 between 1955-1957.
The cockpit is simple and to the point.

The second engine installed in the monster was a mighty Allison V12
1710 cubic inch P-51 fighter plane engine.
Liquid cooled and supercharged.

The car was built in 1955 at the Arfons Brothers shop on Pickle Road
in Akron, Ohio. The first engine was a Ranger aircraft engine.

The car raced at the inaugural 1955 NHRA Nationals, Great Bend, Kansas.
Walt drove the car to top gas class with a top speed at 131 mph.

The Arfons raced the Green Monster #5 at the second annual 1956 Nationals in
Kansas City, Kansas, then again at the 1957 Nationals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
They finished 1957 with a 157.89 at the first International Drag Meet
in Chester, South Carolina.

The rear end: Two 1951 GMC one-ton sections bolted together.
Halibrand 3.57 quick change gears with a tug boat marine wet clutch.

When the Allison was installed the rear wing was added to help with the handling.
The dually slicks didn't help and caused some handling problems.

When Lee Pendleton owned the car it was driven by Willy Snyder at the
1958 and 1959 Nationals in Detroit, Michigan.
The official team was Pendleton, Eskelin and Snyder out of Ashtabula, Ohio.

During the mid and late 1950's, the Arfons Brothers created eleven Green Monster
race cars. When aircraft powered was relegated to exhibition classification or
match racing but could not race in Top Eliminator at the national events.

Jon Rowley (front) had his teenage dream come true when he was able to purchase
and restore his all time favorite race car, the Green Monster #5.
Jon and crew keep the car fresh and correct down to the original nuts, bolts and parachute.
Jon thanks Lee Pendleton, The Chrismans, Yancey's Allisons, Jon Lundberg and all
those in the drag racing community for their support.
The Green Monster #5 debuted at the 2009 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion
at Bakersfield, California.

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