Stender, 44, who claims he's never held a "real" job, is an obsessive auto junkie who makes a living through airshows, racing, and TV features with his company Indy Boys Inc. He grew up on a farm in Big Bend, Wisc., and has been into motor-sports from drag racing to snowmobiling for years.
His interest in jet engines began in 1996.
Stender said he heard a story once ( a probably tall tale) of a farmer who strapped a missile engine to his car, and drove it into the side of a mountain.
Intrigued, he just so happened to come across a cruise-missile engine and a '67 Chevy Impala. He won't say where he got the missile engine, which should worry us all.
"When you get a cruise-missile engine," he said, "You don't reveal your source. That's confidential."
After developing a jet-powered toilet and jet-powered bus that he claims went over 750 mph, he thought it was time to dust off the Impala and the engine at his home in Indianapolis.
"They'd both been sitting in my shop for a while," he said. "We got it all wired and fired up and here we are."
The Toilet Eureka
It all started with the toilets. He had an aha moment at a Texas airshow when a gust of wind sent some portable toilets moving across a racetrack.
"One of those big desert storms came blowing through," he said. "All these port-a-johns blew away, and I thought that looked kind of cool."
He put a call to some buddies at the Charlotte Motor Speed Raceway and figured out a way to rig the port-a-potty with an engine, making it drivable. It's got wheels, and the urinal works as a fuel tank.
"We tried to use a toilet paper holder, but it kept getting sucked in the engine all the time," he said.
The propane powered toilet wasn't perfect from a drive perspective.
"I flipped it once," he said. "Wham: It went pretty hard."
Now he's rigged his Impala, which is a bit more stable than the port-a-potty, to go 300 mph, he claims. But that speed is starting to become a bit mundane for Stender.
"I'm so used to doing it all the time," he said.
Still, he can't get used to the heat emitted from the 10,000 horsepower on the roof of his car that dragon-spits 30 feet of flames behind the vehicle and leaves a smokey cigar trail in its wake.
"This one is on top of your head, so you look in the rear view mirror and you have all this fire behind you," he said. "The windshield glass gets really hot. You usually you sweat your butt off, pretty much."
The engine is affixed to the car by two roll bars on the inside and takes 10 gallons of fuel to go one mile.
But something says fuel efficiency isn't the end game here.