2002 - Volume #26, Issue #3, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tractor "Races" Fun Way To Raise Funds
for a charity or local organization, take a look
at these antique tractor races organized by
Jim Phelps, Preston Md.
"They help draw and hold a crowd," says
Phelps, who has set up events for different
At the events, old tractor owners can
compete in four different races. All are held
on the same track, usually a straight raceway
about 60 ft. long and 20 ft. wide.
The first event is the barrel roll. "Drivers
must roll an empty 50-gal. plastic drum from
start to finish, touching the barrel with only
their front tires. If any metal part of the tractor
touches the barrel, they're out of the race,"
Phelps says. Contestants must also keep their
barrels within the bounds of the track or be
"It's not as easy to do as it sounds. The
plastic drums are light, so they bounce and
roll if they're hit too hard and they're hard to
keep rolling straight. It's easier to do with a
narrow front end. The winner is the driver
with the best time," Phelps says.
The second race requires an entirely
different set of senses. "In this one, the
drivers cross the same course blindfolded.
The one who stops his tractor closest to the
finish line without going over it wins," he
explains. While this may sound dangerous,
time is not counted, so it's not done at full
throttle. This allows someone to walk along
side each driver to tell them if they're about
to stray out of bounds. Phelps says they're
not allowed to give contestants hints about
the proximity of the finish line, though.
Drivers must rely on their own sense of speed
and elapsed time.
"Some stop after going only a few feet.
Others go over the line. At the Preston
Volunteer Fire Company event in April, the
winner stopped just 6 ft. short of the line,"
Time is important in the next event - and
the more of it, the better. Called the slow
race, two tractors at a time cross the course,
with the winner being the slower of the two
to cross the 60-ft. course. Once the driver
begins, he's not allowed to touch either the
clutch or the brake. "If your tractor engine
stalls, you're out," Phelps says. "Some
people try to slow down by using their
chokes, but that's risky because too much
choke can kill the engine."
In the slow race, the winner of each twotractor
heat pulls around to race again until
all others have been eliminated.
The final event, and perhaps the most
difficult, is the egg race. In this one,
contestants cover the course carrying an egg
on a plastic spoon clenched in their teeth.
"We run this one two tractors at a time. If
both drivers drop their eggs, they're allowed
to do it over," Phelps says. "If they both cross
the finish line carrying their eggs, the one
with the fastest time wins."
He says this race requires a strong jaw and
slow, deliberate movements in addition to a
smooth riding tractor. Hitting a bump can
turn the flexible plastic spoon into a catapult.
"We've always used raw eggs for this one,
but boiled eggs would work, too. We've had
some complaints from people who don't like
having to clean the egg off their tractors."
The egg race winner is the one who crosses
the line in the shortest time without losing
"We give out trophies to the winners, with
local businesses usually sponsoring them.
There are no cash prizes, though. It's all for
fun and entertainment and to help draw a
Phelps has been participating and helping
organize old tractor races for several years
and would be happy to advise anyone looking
to do the same. "They're great family fun.
We often have two or three generations of
the same family competing with each other
in these events," he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim
Phelps, P.O. Box 7, Preston, Md. 21655 (ph
410 673-2155, evenings only; E-mail:
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