Arnold Bonner

It's with considerable sadness that we must report the recent passing of Arnold Bonner. Arnold was a long-time competitor in the mid-south drag racing scene with his easily recognizable 1940 Chevrolet coupe. He was also a featured participant among a panel of honorees at the 2010 Memphis Rodders Reunion, where we examined the earliest days of the club's history. Arnold was there when the local drag racing scene began, and remained an enthusiastic supporter of the sport throughout his life.

He served his country in the Air National Guard, retiring after a lengthy career. He also spent his spare time drag racing throughout the southeast for the better part of four decades. He was a fixture at Lakeland Drag Strip, and staked a notable claim to having raced at Lakeland every year the track was in operation, and always with the same car, his black 1940 Chevy coupe that was a fierce competitor in the now defunct Modified Production class. Arnold's infamous Chevrolet was later restored by Fred Gilliam, and has been displayed at the Memphis Rodders Reunion on two separate occasions. Arnold was also a whiz at setting up automotive ignition systems for maximum performance, and his skills in this area were widely sought by his fellow racers.

Last November, Arnold's friend and fellow racer Bobby Anderson, strapped Arnold to the passenger seat of his 55 Chevy race car and made an honorary pass down the drag strip with Arnold riding shotgun during the Lakeland Drag Strip Reunion held at Holly Springs Drag Strip. Failing eyesight had plagued Arnold for years, but he was noticeably jazzed to feel the rush of acceleration with a sprint down the race track once again. Two weeks later, he was part of the panel at the Memphis Rodders Reunion, and was obviously happy to see his old race car again in it's 1970's 'Super Trick' livery, along with his many old friends who came out to help celebrate the history of the club.

Here Arnold is shown with fellow panel members Marshall Robilio, and Ray Godman (front row), and Bruce Hale, Eddie Wilbanks, Jake Moran and Larry Nolan (back row).

Arnold was a pleasant friend to everyone at the reunion, and a true link to mid-south drag racing history via his days as a competitor. He raced the old fashioned way, by innovating and experimenting. He will be missed by all that knew him, and even by those that didn't, as he helped to make drag racing a competitive tradition in the Memphis area that continues to this day.