From horseless-carriages to drag-racers, electric cars shown in Gateway

Read this and see why some of the top P.I.R. drag-racers’ jaws drop when this former Datson 1200 silently slinks up to the starting line ‚Ķ

John “Plasma boy” Wayland, the owner of this 100 mph electric dragster, says petro-fueled racers snicker when his battery-powered car rolls up to the line ‚Äì until smokes them at speeds of over 100 mph.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
We’d never seen a “cruise-in” like this before, at the Village Inn restaurant in the Gateway/Mall 205 area. And this car show ‚Äì featuring a dozen electric cars ‚Äì was drawing quite a crowd.

“We created this event,” John “Plasma boy” Wayland, explained to us, “to raise public awareness about electric cars. We’re showing that electric cars aren’t a fantasy or a dream. They’re real, right here, right now.”

Wayland rhapsodized about the benefits of driving vehicles that don’t run on fossil fuels. “We run on American-generated electrons. I drive an electric car almost exclusively. Why use gas or diesel when you can hum around on electricity?”

This 1921 Milburn, an electric car made in the USA, looked like a horse-drawn carriage, but had been modified to run on batteries instead of horsepower.

Electron-fueled drag racer
Wayland motioned us over to his “modified” 1972 Datsun 1200 Sedan.

“When we go to PIR or Woodburn and roll out to the drag race starting line, a lot of people are surprised to see an electric car,” Wayland told us with a sly smile breaking over his face.  “Jaws drop when we run it. We pull up to a standard, fuel-gulping car on the line as they smoke their tires. We glide up silently ‚Äì and then smoke OUR tires. At the green light, my car pulls its front tires off the ground for the first 50 feet.”

After winning a race, Wayland said one of two things happen: Either the opponent is so embarrassed they lost to an electric car, they slink off and go home. Or, they come over, and shake hands, and want to learn more about electric-powered vehicles.

Wayland loves showing off his “ampere-sucking” drag racer while he talks up electric vehicles as a good alternative to gas-powered transportation.

Wayland rattled off his drag racer’s statistics: “The old Datsun had a 69 hp, 4 cylinder engine. Now it is a electronic, wheel-standing electric drag car that does the quarter-mile as fast as a Dodge V-10 Viper. Doing 0 – 60 in 3.2 seconds, it’s pretty quick. In the eighth-mile, no one can touch it. It hits 106 in the quarter mile. Top speed? Unknown!”

An all-electric driver
“This isn’t my regular car,” Wayland confided. “We drive two electrics and one hybrid. Look: Most people do most of their driving in town. Doesn’t it make sense to stop polluting, stop supporting foreign oil producers, and use the great technology that’s now available?”

Want to learn more? See Wayland’s website at, the national site at, or the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association., a non- profit statewide association.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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