Where It All Started—Eaton

With a rich history and diverse portfolio of products, Eaton Corporation is a powerhouse in the power manufacturing industry, especially when it comes to racing. Although the company now is a global entity on a massive scale, it began back in 1911 when founder Joseph Eaton invested in a new idea.

As transportation landscape was changing rapidly, New Jersey native Eaton had an idea for the first gear-driven truck axle. Along with Viggo Torbensen, the men incorporated the Torbensen Gear and Axle Company through financing from Torbensen’s mother and their axles were first used on Ford’s 1911 pickup trucks. In 1915, the business was relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, to be closer to the epicenter of the automotive industry at the time, and, in 1916, Republic Motor Truck Company purchased the company.

Eaton and Torbensen went on to found the Eaton Axle Company in 1919, and bought back Torbensen in 1923. A series of mergers and acquisitions soon followed; the rapidly diversifying company changed its name to Eaton Manufacturing Company in 1932 and a Canadian location was opened in 1937.

Over the years, the company went through many more transformations and name changes, including the acquisition of Fuller Manufacturing in 1958 and another update to Eaton Yale & Towne Inc. after purchasing Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co. in 1963. In 1978, Eaton Corporation acquired Samuel Moore & Company, Kenway Systems, and Cutler-Hammer.

In the mid-1980s, Eaton began manufacturing superchargers to improve upon the previously existing designs, and its Twin Vortices Series line became a favorite choice in the market. Many other industry firsts were innovated by Eaton, from air bags to air conditioning, superchargers to space shuttle systems. Since then, the company has moved into a more electrical-focused position, with approximately 65 percent of its business serving the industry.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Automotive company started in the late 1940s when it produced the Thornton tandem-drive axle conversion kit for WWI vehicles with a 100-percent automatic locking differential. Later, in 1969, this unit was released to the performance automotive industry as the Detroit Locker. The company changed its name to Tractech in 1979, and Eaton purchased it in 2005.

NMRA and NMCA racers trust not only Eaton’s highly engineered, roots-type, positive-displacement superchargers, but also the Detroit Locker and Detroit Truetrac product lines to help them get down the track and into the winner’s circle. Additionally, Eaton manufactures engine valves, valvetrain components, cylinder heads, heavy-duty driveline components, and much more. Through its incredibly history, Eaton and its subsidiaries have been an integral part of the evolution of automotive performance and have helped to progress the sport of drag racing overall.

More than 100 years after Eaton first founded the business in his name, the Eaton Corporation shifted from automotive, to industrial, and now electrical and even aerospace. From its humble beginnings to currently employing 70,000-plus team members all over the world and selling products to customers in more than 150 countries, Eaton is proudly powering business, powering the automotive community, and is a trusted name in power management as well as energy-efficient technologies.

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