At dinner in the Stateline Hotel and Casino, Arfons thinks things out and makes some decisions. He will go out at daybreak next day in the still morning air. He will start farther back, at the two-mile mark, giving the Monster a three-mile run into the first measured-mile clock. He will throw on second-stage afterburners.
The part about the afterburners worries the crew. These are jet nozzles that pour raw fuel into the engine and give it absolute, stark acceleration. Art has never before had two burners lighted, only one.
That night, Helicopter Pilot Bob Hosking, a giant, close-cropped redhead, has a nightmare. Hosking has been flying a photographic mission over the course and has seen the Monster run. The nightmare is of Arfons crashing, the Monster rolling end over end, one of its wheels bouncing high into the air and through the helicopter rotors.
Everybody assembles on the fiats in the blackness of 5 a.m. on Thursday. By 8 a.m. the Monster is on the line, pointing north. The crew is stationed down the line, every man tensed. Down below the measured mile Hosking and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Photographer Eric Schweikardt are hovering in the helicopter, waiting.
At 8:03 a.m. the Monster rolls away. Arfons lifts his foot off the brake and switches on both afterburners. The car suddenly coughs a stream of yellow fire, gives a huge, rolling thump and roars away.
Arfons blasts through the mile at 585.366 mph and through the kilo at 589.597, still accelerating. Down course, a few hundred yards outside the flags, he hits 610 mph.
In the copter Eric sees the Monster drift to the left of the black line. Then, sickeningly, it veers to the right and starts to roll.
"It first flipped over on its right side and then—suddenly—it was upside down," Eric says later. "There was an enormous puff of flame in the middle of it, and then Hosking began to crank the helicopter down on top of it.
"The Monster came out of the first roll, and it still had all its wheels. But it landed hard, right side up, and suddenly one of the wheels bounced high into the air toward us and almost went through one of the rotors. The wheel was almost as high as we were.
"The car was exploding in pieces on all sides. Then a parachute blossomed out of the smoke. The car went end over end, twice. It landed on its side and began to slide, twistingly. It slid forever, kicking up salt."