E.J. Potter's 'Super Slot Car' was an MG 1100 sedan with 4 jet-engine starter motors, one per wheelEnlarge Photo
The sport of drag racing has been with us almost as long as the automobile has.
Over the last decade, advances in high-power lithium-ion batteries have given rise to a new variant: electric drag racing.
But before modern batteries existed, how could you possibly make a competitive electric dragster?
Well ... how about with a monstrous Allison V-12 engine, a generator, four starter motors for jet engines, and two spools of thick, high-capacity electrical cable?
That's exactly what drag-racing legend E.J. Potter (aka The Michigan Madman) built in the late 1960s, as detailed in a 2012 story on The Kneeslider.
E.J. Potter, the 'Michigan Madman,' hit almost 200 mph on a jet-engine powered trike [Potter family]Enlarge Photo
He called it "the Super Slot Car," after the (now largely-vanished) sport of racing tiny electric model cars around a grooved track.
Potter had previously created a series of drag-strip motorcycles known as "Widow Makers," for their Chevrolet small-block V-8 engines mounted in Harley-Davidson frames.
He dragged the bikes for 13 years, eventually reaching 190 miles per hour and setting a Guinness World Record in the process.
But after some injuries, he turned his attention to the idea of blinding acceleration without internal-combustion engines.
Allison V-12 powered electric generator and cable spools for Super Slot Car [photo: E.J. Potter]Enlarge Photo
He attached an Allison V-12 airplane engine to a generator, and mounted the assembly on a trailer, along with two large spools of electrical cable.
When performing at drag events, he'd unspool the cable down the quarter-mile length of the drag strip.
A natural-born showman, Potter took his time (about 3 minutes) in driving his pickup down the track to unspool the cable, and then firing up the massive Allison engine.
The Super Slot Car itself was the stripped shell of a small MG 1100 front-wheel-drive two-door sedan, with four 200-horsepower electric jet-engine starter motors, one per wheel.
1969 MG 1300 (a slightly updated MG 1100), photographed in 2008 by Charles01, for public uEnlarge Photo
Two electrical pickups on the bottom of the car carried electricity to wiring that distributed it to the four motors--just how a slot car works (with fewer motors).
The car's lettering even said "Smog Free Performance" on the trunk.
After the crowd was fully engaged, Potter would just flip a switch--sending his car rocketing down the track at triple-digit speeds.
The Super Slot Car reportedly ran the quarter-mile in the low 10-second range, with a trap speed of 120 mph. Not bad for half a century ago.
Potter never found a sponsor for his unique concept.
White Zombie electric Datsun drag racer (Image: Plasma Boy Racing)Enlarge Photo
He later blamed hot-rod magazines for a lack of coverage, saying their publishers didn't want to antagonize advertisers selling parts for conventional gasoline-powered drag cars.
Potter died at 71 in April 2012; an obituary in The New York Times not only mentioned his "Michigan Madman" moniker but eulogized him as "a legend of the American drag strip."
As Left Lane News noted in a cover of the story, "Today, though, the burgeoning electric drag racing community considers Potter to be one of their pioneers."
[hat tip: Rick Feibusch]