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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Early J-85 Jet Dragster History

By Franklin Ratliff

In 1968, Art Arfons built the first rail-type jet dragster, a little J-34 car later driven for many years by Bob Motz. This car remained the only rail-type jet dragster until 1977 when in May the first J-85 car, the Gustin/Palamides "Daily C II," was given approval by NHRA. Third of the Gustin/Palamides jets, the "Daily C II" weighed 1,300 pounds ready to run as compared to 2,400 to 2,800 pounds for the J-34 powered "Daily C" and "For Special" cars (under different sponsorship the "For Special" became the "Sherbits" car). Handling problems prevented the "Daily C II" from showing the real potential of the J-85. At Napierville Speedway in Montreal, Gustin was forced to shut-off early, running a 7.19 E.T. with a 128.38-mph speed. At York U.S. 30 Dragway, Gustin again shut-off early to record a 6.72 E.T. with a 181.04 mph speed. 

In March of 1979, NHRA approval of Craig Arfons J-85 "Green Monster" dragster was announced in National Dragster. It would be this car, together with Wayne Knuth's simultaneously constructed but more conservatively designed J-85 "Odyssey" rail-type dragster, that would revolutionize jet car racing. Initially, Arfons was limited to single runs only. Also in March of 1979, NHRA announced approval of the rail-type "Avenger" J-34 jet dragster built by Lee Austin and driven by Dan Sullivan. In September of 1979 at Great Lakes Drag-A-Way, Arfons ran a 6.08 second 277.77 mph pass.


Franklin Ratliff


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