Last Saturday I drove my Mustang down to a barbecue at the Holly Springs estate of George Poteet, a local car buff who has been smashing landspeed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the fastest piston-engine, wheel-driven vehicle in history. I went to Bonneville with him for Speed Week when he first started breaking records back in 2006, when his fastest pass down the salt was "only" 338 mph. The first, and prior to Memphis Que only, blog I created was devoted to that bucket list trip. I got married the next year and haven't been able to make it back to the Mecca of high-speed hot rodding. But every August Poteet keeps going back and going faster, reaching a speed of 462 mph this year.
For an idea of what this thing is like at 462 mph check out this Youtube video put together from cameras that were throughout the car during the run. It's only two minutes long. If you're a gearhead you'll end up watching four or five times in a row.
Even more amazing is that he is reaching speeds like that powered by a single 368 inch Mopar V8.
What the engine lacks in size it makes up for in forced induction with two huge turbochargers.
Every year since 1949 Hot Rod magazine has presented this trophy to the driver who travels the fastest mile on the Salt Flat's five-mile course.
The trophy has been in Poteet's shop for four years now. The names on it are like a who's who of racing legends like Alex Xydias, Al Teague and Mickey Thompson.
The barbecue was being prepared the Memphis Street Rods car club, who cooked 60 pork butts and a whole hog.
I was surprised by just how great the barbecue ended up being. The club members who smoked it seriously know what they are doing. Excellent texture, bark and smoke penetration.
This vintage John Deere ice cream maker produced 50 gallons of homemade ice cream for dessert for everybody.
Poteet made his money as vice president of National Safety Associates, Inc., during a time of rapid growth for the company when it first entered the home water filtration market. But I can remember sharing hotel rooms with he and my dad, who are friends and both members of the Memphis Street Rods, on trips to car shows back in the '80s before he reached levels of wealth like this. Remember, every car pictured in this entire post belongs to the same guy. But despite his successes in the business world he is still a down-to-earth Mississippi gearhead. In fact he prefers not to be recognized when he attends car shows. He just gets to collect real cars the way some gearheads collect little diecast models.
Step behind the cars lined up outside the building and you'll find another row of them. Not only are all the cars immaculate, but almost all of them also sport rare, highly-sought after options, especially when it comes to the engines powering them.
Once you're done checking out all the cars from that building...
...You are standing in front of another building full of cars.
The 462-mph streamliner was in yet another building full of cars.
One of my favorite cars in the entire collection is this deceptively nostalgic looking little deuce coupe powered by a Roush-built Ford Windsor V8 backed by a five-speed.
I stopped in my tracks when I witnessed the Holy Grail of ultra-rare, ultra-powerful big Ford V8s sitting in a black Galaxie. The SOHC 427 "Cammer" was such a beast that NASCAR banned it out of fear in 1965 before it ever even got a chance to compete. I took the time to explain the engine's importance to my friend who was accompanying me. Then I walked on to the next car in the building and briefly thought I''d lost my mind when I saw what looked like the exact same engine compartment in another car.
One of the 427 Cammers is in a Starliner hardtop.
The other is in a Sunliner convertible. Other than the tops the cars are identical.
As soon as I noticed the old Dodge Super Bee I knew I'd see a 426 Hemi under the hood.
This heavily customized '69 Torino Talladega isn't even complete yet, but it's already a work of art sitting unfinished in bare metal.
Under the hood is another ultra-rare big Ford V8 -- an injected Boss 429.
Step out behind the shop and you are looking at a Galaxie raced by former NASCAR driver Fred Lorenzen.
And another building...
And another building...
Of all the engine families in the world, the FE series of big-block Ford V8s has always had the most magnetic pull on my soul for reasons I can't logically explain. Poteet's collection includes plenty of exquisite examples.
From factory three deuces on a 390...
...to a factory dual quad 427.
As an afternoon shower moved in all the toys got stacked up and put away. I can't imagine how you decide what to drive each day when you're dealing with a collection like this.