With all the fan-fare about the funny car class' fiftieth birthday, a couple of groups of plastic fantastics have been long forgotten. In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, the funn car class enjoyed success on America's many drag strips. So if the asphalt based funny car could be popular on asphalt, why not dirt or sand?
I first saw sand funny cars and funny Jeeps in 1978 at Coallinga, Califorina. NBC was doing a NBC Sports TV show featuring drag racing in the sand and I was there to cover the event for Argus Publishers. NBC went all out by hiring Don Prudhomme to commentate and interview racers at the event. There was a small but hard group of sand funny cars in attendance which features blown nitro burning Jeep bodied funny cars. Also the funny car class included rear engine cars which had already vanished from the drag strip in the early 1970s but not in the sand.
A couple years later, I attended a large sand drag event in Ontario, California, and again was treated to more back motor funny cars owned by Ralph Pearson and Hank Eckardt. Due to the lack of races and prize money. Pearson switched to an asphalt top fuel car and Eckardt; well, he just faded from sand racing.
Green Monster Camaro Funny Car
From his Midwest based office USHRA/SRO President Bob George wanted something different to feature in his already successful monster truck and truck pull circuit. The USHRA was kind of WWE of automotive events and entertainment was paramount in every show. The USHRA's shows packed small arena's and major stadiums all over the USA but Bob George wanted to give his loyal spectators more bang for their entertainment buck. He saw how drag fans loved funny cars, so why not bring them indoors and have the pull a zillion pound sled. The noise from the winding funny car engine with the dirt flying from it's paddle tire slicks was surely an asset to the USHRA show circuit.
Breaking the "funny car ice" was son of speed legend Art Arfons, Tim Arfons. Tim debuted a new Arfons' Green Monster Jet Turbine funny car and the rest is funny car history. Arfons with his wheels up and fire show was a huge success on the circuit. The Green Monster was so popular on the USA pulling circuit that he was invited to bring his funny car to the Netherlands for exhibition runs at the largest pull event in the Netherlands. Yeah, Tim went and he took me with him and wow, did the Dutch crowd love his Green Monster show.