“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Akron in Summit County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Akron Fulton Airport Champions Raceway

Akron Fulton Airport Champions Raceway Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 23, 2019
1. Akron Fulton Airport Champions Raceway Marker
Inscription.  In 1951, several pioneer drag racers opened one of the Midwest’s first drag strips known by local racing enthusiasts as the “Fulton Airport Champions Raceway.” For the next eight years half-brothers Art and Walt Arfons, Otis “Otie” Smith, and “Akron Arlen” Vanke raced here. Both Arfons, who were long time bitter rivals, at one point held the world land speed record. Otie, the first president of the Cam Jammers car club in Akron, won the National Hot Rod Association’s 1959 championship. Vanke won many national championships as a Stock, Super Stock, and Pro Stock racer.
Erected 2016 by Akron Airport Racing Pioneers and The Ohio History Connection. (Marker Number 47-77.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Sports. In addition, it is included in the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1951.
Location. 41° 2.547′ N, 81° 27.78′ W. Marker is in Akron, Ohio, in Summit County. Marker is at the intersection
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of Triplett Boulevard (Ohio Route 241) and Masillon Road, on the right when traveling east on Triplett Boulevard. Marker is in the parking lot median, about 50 feet north of the original Akron Fulton Airport terminal building, behind the bust of Christopher Columbus. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1800 Triplett Blvd, Akron OH 44306, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Airdock (here, next to this marker); Karl Arnstein (here, next to this marker); Motorless Flight (a few steps from this marker); The Soap Box Derby (approx. 0.4 miles away); Alaskan Totem Pole (approx. 0.4 miles away); Franklin Augustus "F. A." Seiberling and The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (approx. 2 miles away); Middlebury Cemetery (approx. 2.3 miles away); Middlebury Lodge No. 34 F.&A.M. (approx. 2.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Akron.
More about this marker. Marker was cast in 2015 but was erected in 2016 and dedicated June 19th of that year.
Also see . . .
1. Ohio to Honor Drag Legends Arfons, Smith & Vanke with Special Historical Marker. 2016 staff article in On All Cylinders blog. Excerpt:
During the early 1950s, the runway at Akron Fulton Airport in Akron, OH became the first National Hot Rod Association sanctioned
Karl Arnstein, Champions Raceway and Airdock Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 23, 2019
2. Karl Arnstein, Champions Raceway and Airdock Markers
This marker is in the middle. This wide median divides the parking lot in front of the terminal.
drag race track east of the Mississippi. It was here that drag racing legends Art and Walt Arfons, Otis “Otie” Smith, and “Akron” Arlen Vanke began their incredible careers.

The four drag racing pioneers will be the subjects of an Ohio Historical Marker plaque dedication on Father’s Day, June 19th, at the Akron Fulton Airport to honor their contributions and innovations in the drag racing industry.
(Submitted on November 19, 2019.) 

2. The Early Days of Drag Racing: 1950-1970. 2017 article by Robert Tate in MotorCities. Excerpt:
The history of drag racing started when a group of automotive enthusiasts decided to make high performing cars and race each other in parts of southern California and on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. The sport wasn’t “officially” founded until June 19, 1950 when CJ Pappy Hart organized first commercial drag race on a runway at Orange County Airport.

After that, It didn’t take long for the spectators to flock to this new and super-charged sporting event. The American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) has developed a large following of loyal fans since its inception in 1955. Over the years, drag racing spread to every major city in the U.S. from coast to coast.
(Submitted on November 20, 2019.) 
Akron Fulton Airport Terminal image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats
3. Akron Fulton Airport Terminal
Panorama of airport terminal from near marker. The Motorless Flight monument is right behind the photographer.
Akron’s Columbus Monument image. Click for full size.
1937 sculpture by Biagio Iuliano, Photograph by J.J. Prats, August 23, 2019
4. Akron’s Columbus Monument
The brass tablet reads,
This monument of the greatest Italian navigator Christopher Columbus was donated to the City of Akron by its Italian residents.
Sponsored by the Sicilian Society,
October 12 A.D. MCMXXXVIII.
The three historical markers can be seen in profile behind this monument. In the distance is the back of the boulder that is the Motorless Flight monument.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 20, 2019. It was originally submitted on November 19, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 616 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 19, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   4. submitted on November 20, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Feb. 20, 2024