Machinery Chatter

Tractor Sets a New World Record

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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On a snowy track in Finland, a Valtra tractor raced to a new world record speed of 80 mph. (Photo courtesy of Nokian Tyres)

In February, a new Guinness World Record for fastest tractor was set in Finland. In a marketing campaign for AGCO's Valtra and Nokian tires, four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen drove a Valtra T234 tractor equipped with winter tractor tires, reaching a top speed of 80 mph or 130 km/h.

Here is a link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/….

I will go out on a limb and guess most people don't associate tractors and high speed. I wonder how much convincing (and money) it took to get this rally champ to even drive a tractor.

Tractors with higher road speeds are not necessarily a new idea, at least in other parts of the world.

I can remember in the late 1990s my dad and I took a tour of the John Deere production facilities through our local dealership. On the tour of the Tractor Works in Waterloo, Iowa, the company was producing tractors with higher road speeds because, as our tour guide told us, in many parts of the world farmers use tractors as both tractors and a truck, something that I didn't even know at the time.

The fact there is now a tractor which can go 80 mph is in stark contrast to the past with many farm tractors. Most farmers have had tractors with maybe a top speed of 20-25 mph.

In some case it could have been even slower than that. Among my grandpa's first tractors was a 1935 John Deere D, which we restored after it sat unused for more than 30 years. He owned the tractor with his brother who owned a sand pit business on the other side of the county.

Because of this, he would drive the tractor from the sand pit to his farm and back every once in a while. My dad and my uncle would ride with him, and because the D's top speed is only like 7 mph, the kids would get off the tractor and run on the road and keep up with it!

This was in the 1950s. Today, it may not be the safest thing to have kids run alongside of slow-moving tractors.

As a kid learning to do tractor chores, slow was more important for me than fast. Among my first jobs was to drive the tractor while my dad was baling hay in small square bales. I was maybe 10 years old.

With this job, slower was the rule. Because I was just learning to drive the tractor and negotiate across the windrows of the hayfield, my dad had plenty of time to stack bales on the hayrack I am sure. At least he didn't have to do this job alone.

I understand a faster tractor would be useful today as more farmers are farming farther away from home. Naturally, there is some concern about increasing road time. If tractors could go faster on the road maybe you could farm farther and farther away from the home base.

As much as that would be helpful, after watching the video of the tractor roaring by at 80 mph, I don't know how good this would be.

Not to go the negative side here, but people who drive cars sometimes don't always see farm equipment on the roads. Or at the very least they misjudge how fast these machines are going. Accidents happen. Would a tractor going that fast in traffic help or hinder potential vehicle/farm equipment accidents? That is a good question.

It will be fascinating to see what the future holds for farm tractors and how fast they can travel on roads. I will go out on a limb and guess kids will not be running alongside these tractors.

Russ Quinn