Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Michigan Madman...

The other night we were sitting out on the deck and a couple of my neighbors stopped by for some beers. We got to telling stories, as is often the case, and I talked about growing up in the Midwest. There was a guy named EJ Potter, aka the Michigan Madman, who did drag racing exhibitions, first on a series of V-8 engined motorcycles, then put a V-12 in a '57 Plymouth. It was the latter machine I saw when I went with my older brother to the locally world famous US 30 drag strip, "Drag Racing Capital of Chicagoland". I almost never went anywhere with him and it turned out the only reason he invited me along was that he was broke, so I wound paying for everything. There's nothing quite like growing up as the kid brother. Anyway, my brother's buddy was so excited seeing the hot rod Plymouth smoke it's tires all the way down the track, he kept jumping up and down, yelling "didya see that? didya see that!" Incredible.
Starting off with a small block Chevy, Potter built increasingly bigger-engined drag bikes. Eventually he graduated to a V-12 Allison airplane engine in a '57 Plymouth.

After he retired from drag racing, Potter put the V-12 engine in a tractor and entered it into tractor pulling contests. That led to a double engined tractor with 3400 HP!

Bert, one of my neighbors who had raced a Harley engined dragster himself, was quite impressed by the V-12 power plants. "Yeah those Allison engines, they sound like nothing you hear today, the sweetest sounding engine ever."  And the conversation moved on to old airplanes.

So never did get to the point of the story; that this self styled madman spent most of his life riding crazy fast motorcycles, never was seriously hurt, and built some pretty fantastic machines by himself, with no sponsorship or engineering help. Amazing. EJ Potter died in 2012 at 71. He supposedly was planning a comeback on the V-8 motorcycle just before he died.


  1. It doesn't matter what it is...someone, somewhere will be in his little workshop trying to figure out how to make it go faster!

  2. So true, but when ya get older, you're just tryin' to keep it upright!