EJ Potter, the Michigan Madman, built a few projects many folks aren’t aware of. Best known for his Widow Maker Chevy V8 motorcycle drag racers and his Allison V12 tractors, I thought some of you might like to see his Super Slot Car since we were just discussing electric motorcycles using generators instead of batteries.
EJ Potter was the epitome of a doer, a fellow that built and tested his ideas instead of engaging in long and pointless conversations about whether or not they would work. His Super Slot Car was another great example.
As EJ tells it, in the mid 1960s, with all of the talk about air pollution and electric cars, he began thinking about building an electric drag racer. He knew that the starter motor from a big jet engine could produce over 200 horsepower, but batteries would never deliver the juice he would need. So off he went, gathering starter motors, generators, gearboxes and an Allison engine and he headed into his workshop.
He built a trailer with two big reels of electrical cable and some electric motors to reel the cable back up. In between the reels sat an Allison V12 powered electric generator which poured the juice to the cables. His 4 wheel drive electric race car had 2 pickups underneath which drew electricity from the cables which were laid down on the race track.
It took about 3 minutes to lay out one quarter mile of cable. The car would line up, he would close the switch and off it went, leaping forward and whining like some big electric shaver. He says it got up to about 120 mph.
EJ says the car wasn’t successful because he couldn’t find any car companies at the time willing to sponsor an electric car and magazines didn’t publicize it because advertisers weren’t keen on electric cars, at least, that’s what he says.
However you look at it, the Super Slot Car was ahead of its time and it’s a cool example of using electric motors but getting the electricity from something other than batteries. Maybe not practical off the track, but very neat, nevertheless.
UPDATE: While writing this, I had no idea, E.J. Potter has just passed away. Please see the following post for more details of EJ’s life.
Photos credit: EJ Potter