- Published: 28 October 2015
With an official speed of 96.3185 miles per hour, the title of Fastest Farm Tractor in the World belongs to the 1952 Ford 8N Flathead V8 powered tractor known as the 8NCREDIBLE.
The tractor was built and driven by former NASCAR driver and Fletcher resident Jack Donohue. The Ford Flathead V8 engine was a dealer add-on option in ’51 and ’52 8N tractors.
The previous world speed record was set by David Abbot “Ab” Jenkins, former Salt Lake City mayor and renowned Bonneville Salt Flats land speed racer. His 1932 Allis Chalmers Model U farm tractor clocked 67.667 mph, a speed record that went unchallenged for 81 years.
Donohue shattered Jenkins’ record on a concrete landing strip in Wilmington, Ohio, known as the “Ohio Mile.” Spectators amused at the sight of a farm tractor showing up for the Land Speed Record competition, and became wildly supportive when they learned that Donohue was there to take the word tractor speed record.
Donohue’s 8NCREDIBLE is the world’s only farm tractor officially certified to compete in the Land Speed Record Competition, a competition that began in 1898. Jenkins and Donohue are the only people to compete on farm tractors.
Donohue originally wanted to take the world tractor title on Jenkins’ home turf – the Booneville Salt Flats – but severe weather canceled racing at the western Utah speedway for two years in a row. Both Wilmington and Bonneville speedways are officially timed and sanctioned by the land speed record authority.
Jenkins only attempted the land speed record once, claiming that driving his Allis Chalmers was, “like riding a frightened bison.” Donohue plans to take his 8NCREDIBLE back to Ohio in April 2016 for the annual Hot Rod magazine land speed record event, where he feels his tractor should top 100 mph.
Jenkins was known as the king of land speed racing, spending his entire life racing everything with wheels. He still holds several land speed records, including a 24-hour endurance run in 1940, where he covered 2,868 miles at an average speed of 161 mph. Of all the record and achievements during his lifetime, Jenkins is best remembered for his 1935 tractor run. The same Allis Chalmers tractor would play a part in Jenkins untimely demise.
In August 1956, 21 years after his land speed record, after making an appearance at the Road America Speedway in Wisconsin, Jenkins was traveling back to his hotel with a group of press members. He pointed up to a billboard featuring his record-setting tractor and commented that of all the speed runs, that tractor run was the scariest. He then suddenly clutched his chest and died of a heart attack.