It contained the following boxed track items: A single lane Rod Runner, a single lane Speedometer, and a Hot Strip Track Super Pak (that’s 20 feet of orange track and 10 joiners).
This set was distributed exclusively by Allied Stores. Allied was a department store chain that operated from 1935 to 1988. It merged with Federated Department Stores in 1988 and is now part of Macy’s, Inc.
Credit goes to someone at Allied Stores who had the insight to spot a niche opportunity. The popular Hot Wheels brand was offering a couple of ways to measure toy car speed in 1970. The gravity powered Speed Test Set was limited by the gradual onset of acceleration. The Super-Charger powered Speed Test Set was limited by car stability issues against the spinning Super-Charger wheels and the track curves. But if you took 20 feet of straightaway and meshed it with the sudden power burst of the new Rod Runner, then you had all the ingredients for clocking the fastest speeds yet.
Since it was never reissued or reengineered, the Rod Runner stands out as one of the most unique devices Mattel ever came up with to power Hot Wheels cars. When today’s kids get their hands on it, they are so impressed that they will spend hours with it, launching car after car.
The Rod Runner is simply powered by a rubber band. Tension on the rubber band can be adjusted by a control knob at the front. Push down the shift stick handle until it locks into position. The rubber band is stretched taught. Run a car into the back end of the Rod Runner. The car lifts up the internal push mechanism. This unlocks the apparatus, the rubber band snaps the push mechanism forward, the shift stick comes up, and the car flies out of the Rod Runner.
Like a run at Bonneville Salt Flats, this is a straight forward layout.
Quickest way to make this set fly? Use 2 rubber bands in the Rod Runner instead of the usual single rubber band.
Here are my 5 test cars that will try to bend the Speedometer needle on the Super Speed Action Set.
The Rod Runner is cocked. The car is ready to go.
Into the machine and the car bursts out.
Hard right tilt into the Speedometer.
Winding the needle around the dial.
Twenty feet later, the cars are still travelling at high speed but are running out of track. The solution? An air bag in pillow form is the ticket.
Here’s my YouTube channel video of the speeds these cars achieved.
So there you have it. The 1970 Hot Wheels Super Speed Set.
It’s still fast. Still fun.
The single lane Rod Runner:
Any risk of a power shortage? Nah. Rubber bands by the quarter pound.