Chuck Potvin

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Chuck Potvin of Anaheim, California operated Potvin Automotive on North Los Angeles Street and East Wilhelmina. Chuck was first introduced to the world of racing in the year of 1937. He and a buddy named Doug Hartelt was out rabbit-hunting at El Mirage Dry Lake, they were driven up for a weekend of camping and hunting. However, their shooting got attention from SCTA members who were holding a race meet in the same area. The young boys were asked if they could stop shooting, as a compensation for being asked to stop shooting, Chuck and Doug were offered to take their 1932 Ford roadster through the speed traps. This incident sparked the boys interest to racing, Doug would become a successful race driver and engine builder while Chuck opened his speed equipment shop. Chuck along with Doug, Dick Kraft, Kenny Lindley and the Palm brothers formed a car club named the Plutocrats while they attended Anaheim High School between 1935 and 1939. Ron Roseberry of R&L Chassis in Anaheim remembered that Chuck once told him how he got into designing camshafts, It was Chuck's high school shop teacher showed him the mathematical equations necessary for fundamental camshaft lobe design and the technical aspects of camshaft grinding. The club was disbanded after the graduation in 1940, instead they became members of the Hollywood Lancers, later known as just the Lancers.[1]


Chuck was a very gifted talent when it came to engines, in his late teen he managed to successfully modify his own ignition. The ignition worked very well, and soon other friends wanted one for their cars to. Before he was enlisted to serve in World War II, he was busy converting Zephyr ignitions in his parents garage on West Broadway in Anaheim. The Army found out from his tests that his technical skills were very high and assigned him to work on aircraft carburetion in the engine department of the Douglas Aircraft Company.[1]


After returning from the war in one piece, Chuck continued modifying ignitions behind his parents' home under the name of Potvin Engineering. Business was brisk due to the huge postwar surge in auto racing, in addition to the profitable ignition business, Chuck began distributing Evans Speed Equipment items.[1]

SCTA News April 1946 could inform in their What's Doin' section, that Chuck always went good in front of the Malt Shop.[2]


In 1947 Chuck was chairman of the S.C.T.A. contest board.[3]


As the years passed by and the business grew, the shop in his parents backyard became to small, eventually Chuck moved his business in 1948 to North Los Angeles Street and East Wilhelmina in Anaheim where he had bought a corner lot.[1]


After Chuck sold his business to Dean in 1962, he went to work in the dynamometer facility of the Atlantic-Richfield Testing Center in Anaheim. He worked here for less than a year, he then began doing some freelance writing for an automotive magazine called Nivtop (Potvin spelled backwards). Chuck Potvin passed away in 1980, but the legendary 425 Eliminator cam has kept the name "Potvin" to disappear from the auto industry.[1]


References



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