Tony Arcuri’s individual odyssey with “a Ford fan’s response to (Tom) Mongoo$e McEwen’s ’57 Chevy,” as his dad puts it, took him way north of the border before he could even begin to compete in the Rocky Mountain Superchargers’ (RMS) signature rocket.
Tony, who just turned 40 in January, embarked on a Canadian adventure to procure his “Firefighter” fierce fighting machine. The Arvada, Colo., resident, and youngest son of Ed Arcuri, III, founder and head honcho of RMS, is a full-time professional firefighter for the West Metro Fire Protection District in suburban Denver. He also is a husband and new father of two of his dad’s six grandchildren, each doing his or her best to keep their grandfather away from the drags, but they have Ed Arcuri’s attention now, if not his physical presence, at all times.
The younger Arcuri drives the organization’s glamour car as the lone competitor for the RMS Fast Group, the Top Supercharged Thunder (6 seconds, 200-plus mph). That baby is a Chrysler design, TFX Hemi beauty with a 540 c.i. screamer of a block producing just over a galloping “two-grand horses,” a replicated, 1956 Ford Crown Vic body, sitting atop a 125-inch wheelbase and boasting a Lenco Planetary air-shift tranny – all geared to cover the precious strip with a 6-second E.T. at top speeds between 200-215 mph.
Tony found the perfect body and chassis way up in Mountie Country at Lloydminster, which straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border east of Edmonton, northwest of Saskatoon, and more than 1,000 miles from Denver. However, it required some time, and patience, to get the monster race-ready – but only after he proved to one U.S. Border Patrol agent that a race car couldn’t possibly be an “illegal alien.”
Trying to cross back into the United States at a Port of Entry in Alberta, just west of the Saskatchewan line, and nearly 400 miles south of Lloydminster, Tony Arcuri, his older brother, Eddie (Edward, IV), and nephew, Tedd (Edward, V, the son of Ed, IV, in this swirl of royal-sounding Eddies), and Tony’s truck-trailer rig carrying the body-chassis combo for the new beauty were spurned; turns out the small port lacked the proper paperwork. So he had to go a total of 150 miles back north, west, then jog back south again to a better-equipped border station heading into Montana.
Expecting perhaps another unpleasant delay, or even detour, he surprisingly encountered a beaming U.S. Border Patrol agent who turned out to be an insufferable gearhead. Therefore, instead of grilling him about his citizenship and asking for gobs of paperwork, the officer inquired quite meekly but excitedly, “Can I look inside?” “Why, yes,” a relieved Colorado quarter-miler replied, hearing in seconds, “Wow!” from the agent, who was so agog with momentary elation that he soon waved the Denver-bound rig-up right through – no sweat!
Once home in Colorado, Arcuri had the newly acquired vehicle’s paint job applied by Carstar Kraftsmen and painted fire engine red and white to replicate the color scheme of a battalion chief’s car. Then he hired the best crew chief he could find: Terry Phillips, a technician at Woodmen Nissan in Colorado Springs, also is part of another team that had been inducted previously into the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame, housed in the Speedzeum in Owensboro, Ky.
Now, with 40-plus seasons on racing crews under his belt, Phillips is happy to head the crew for the Firefighter. But he also is grateful that he and his wife were able to escape the devastating 2013 Black Forest blaze that spared their pine/fir/spruce-surrounded home northeast of the Springs while destroying scores of neighboring residences. Even though their home weathered the inferno, the Phillipses in this case still had to evacuate for several days while firefighters tended to their needs rather than Terry taking care of that other Firefighter.
As the Kentucky Wildcats fan always has reminded any of his drivers, more or less, over the years, if they get the least bit “too big for their britches”: “Remember, I tune that machine to perfection; all you have to do is drive it a quarter-mile.” Meaning, in any motor sport, as great as many drivers are, they would be in the “pits” without guys like Terry Phillips and crew in the Pit.
Tony Arcuri’s Firefighter dragster is designed to replicate the color scheme of a battalion chief’s car from the West Metro Fire Protection District in the Denver, Colo., area, where he is a firefighter when not out on the quarter-mile driving this hot number. Arcuri competes under the banner of the Rocky Mountain Superchargers, founded and helmed by his dad, Ed Arcuri, III.