Art Chester
Art Chester
Category: Aviation
CLASS OF: 2023
BORN: December 15, 1899
DIED: April 24, 1949

Influential designer & pilot in 1930s and ‘40s
Greve Trophy winner at 1939 National Air Races
Set a world speed record at 237 mph
In WWII, led engine installation for P-51 Mustang
1st president of Professional Race Pilots Association
Built the foundation for today’s Formula 1
Named his planes after Popeye cartoon characters


He designed and raced some of the most successful planes of the ‘30s, then helped create the fighter that turned the tide in WWII. Chester rose to prominence winning the 1930 National Air Races, then designed and built his own planes named after Popeye characters, the Chester Jeep, Goon and Swee’ Pea. Starting with the 1933 National Air Races, the Jeep won major races over several seasons, and once held the world speed record at 237 mph. In 1936, Chester was hired to help develop the Menasco Pirate and Buccaneer inverted inline racing engines. Piloting the Goon, Chester won the prestigious Greve Trophy at the 1939 National Air Races at 263 mph. In WWII, he led engine installation for the P-51 Mustang. As the Professional Race Pilots Association’s first president, Chester was an early promoter of midget racing, which in 1947 became today’s Formula 1. His final design, Swee’ Pea, debuted at the 1947 National Air Races. Chester died in Swee’ Pea II at the San Diego Air Races two years later.

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