When Paul Stender, 43-year-old former pit mechanic, feels the need for speed, he straps himself into his jet-engine-equipped toilet and roars off, trailing flame. Stender was running superfast snowmobiles on the drag-racing circuit when he saw his first jet-driven funny car. He liked it so much he bought one, and started building his own outlandishly overpowered vehicles: a jet motorcycle, a jet pickup, a jet school bus. Then one day at a show in Texas, he saw a windstorm blow portable toilets across the tarmac, and it was Newton’s apple all over again.
Powered by a 50-year-old, 750-pound Boeing jet turbine that Stender bought for $5,000, the “Port-O-Jet” can top 46 mph with a tailwind. “It’s not real aerodynamic,” he allows. That said, he’s beaten buddy Tim Arfons’s jet barstool two of the four times they’ve raced [see the barstool at turbinegroup.com].
During his shows at drag strips, arenas and airports across the country, Stender runs the outhouse up and down in front of the crowd, popping the burner and shooting out 30-foot fireballs before making a final high-speed run. (A burner pop happens when Stender hits the afterburner switch while the engine is running at high rpm’s—it dumps volatile JP-8 fuel into the rear burner pipe, which burns quickly, causing a loud explosion. If the engine is running at low rpm’s, hitting the switch sends out a long, loose, yellow fireball.)