Art Arfons may be banned from racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats, where he set the world land speed record in the 1960s, for ignoring a track official's instructions during tests this week.
Arfons, 63, came to the Utah desert July 24 to test his 1,800-pound, jet-powered motorcycle with an eye to a later attempt to regain the land speed mark. He crashed Monday on his third run but was not injured, said Rick Vesco, vice president of the Utah Salt Flat Racing Association."I don't know if we can have him back. He's too nice of a guy and I don't want to be the one to pick him up off the track," Vesco said.
Arfons made two uneventful test runs earlier Monday and ignored Vesco's request as the track referee to make a third. Instead, Arfons blasted off the starting line and reportedly was traveling at 150 mph as he passed the one-mile marker. A few seconds later he lost control of the cycle and crashed at about 225 mph, Vesco said.
When his "Green Monster" skidded to a stop, it had a 2-foot hole in its right side and was leaking hydraulic fluids.
"Well, he didn't do what I asked him to do. I wanted him to do another basic slow test run," Vesco said Thursday. "The thing actually flew, which shows it was poorly designed."
Arfons, of Akron, Ohio, had hoped to return to Utah in September to attempt to topple the land speed record of 633 mph set in 1983 by Richard Noble of England.
Arfons did not return telephone calls placed to his home Thursday.
Vesco said members of the racing association met last weekend for some time trials. When Arfons' cycle didn't meet safety specifications, officials asked him to race the next day after club members had completed their runs.
Arfons was not allowed to race with members of the club because his cycle was out of compliance with the club's safety specifications for safety bar thickness, fire systems and arm restraints, among other things, said Vesco.
Arfons, who had triple-bypass heart surgery in 1979, was checked by paramedics at the crash site and found to have only a few bumps and bruises.
Just two weeks earlier, Arfons' nephew, Craig Arfons, was killed in a jet-powered boat accident on Lake Jackson at Sebring, Fla., as the boat reached a speed of 370 mph.
Vesco said Art Arfons' vehicle did not respond well on its first two runs when he ran at just over 100 mph and then just over 80 mph before having to shut down.
Arfons held the land speed record three times in the 1960s. In a 1966 record attempt, he suffered minor injuries when his jet-powered car crashed.
Vesco said some of the racing association's 280 members will discuss Arfons' desire to return to the Salt Flats at an Aug. 10 meeting.
"He didn't do what we asked him to do and that shows a lack of respect for our organization," he said.