Thirty years ago, a tractor that now belongs to the Archer family in Marietta, Ohio, was plowing fields. Today that same tractor has a much different purpose.
The Archer family is close. Aside from their family business fabricating pipe and steel, they have operated a farm in the town for many decades.
The Archer children, especially their youngest daughter, Kathy, grew up with a passion for working on cars and their family’s farm equipment. Kathy is very mechanical, her father, Dave said, and that quality allowed Kathy and her dad to have a special bond.
This story really begins during the fight of Dave’s life. “I had a double lung transplant two years, three months and two weeks ago,” he said.
That recovery involved a lot of lying around- something, as you can imagine, Dave isn’t so good at. Those hours, weeks, months, in recovery, created the dream that eventually came true- setting the land speed world record on a tractor.
You read that right.
“He approached me about being the driver,” Kathy said.
Kathy wasn’t so keen on the idea at first, but much like her father, she isn’t known to back down from a challenge.
“We kinda looked at each other a little funny,” she said. “I thought he was nuts. He thought I was nuts for not saying yes. We said, yeah let’s do it!”
And that was that.
“It’s odd,” Kathy remarked. “But it’s very normal for us.”
First step- research. Turns out, the official land speed record on a tractor, on the books, was 96 miles per hour, set back in 2015. Prior to that, the record was around 80 miles per hour, set in the 1930’s according to Dave.
Next- the plans on paper. The goal all along was to keep it original.
Dave said, “Everybody says, ‘Well, put springs on it’. You can, but that turns it into a modified tractor. It’s not a farm tractor. This is a farm tractor, period.”
Original, yes, but safety, he said, is everything. In fact, they made sure it was overkill.
“I built it with the idea that it would be a 250-300 mile per hour car,” Dave said.
That means specially built tires, additional bars in the roll cage, a flywheel shield, a fuel cell, parachute, and more.
And then- practice. Cathy was able to hit top speeds of right around 20-30 miles per hour in front of her family home. That was as fast as she ever went. Until Arkansas.
The East Coast Timing Association hosts several events every year at what was once a military base.
Could they beat 96 miles per hour? They went into the weekend feeling pretty confident. You can make as many passes as you like, but the place is crowded. As far as other tractors at the event, though, not a one.
Pass one, Cathy says wasn’t so successful. She said, “Don’t give up. Don’t let up. Just keep going and see what happens.”
Pass two- better.
Pass three beat that world record, and beat it by a long shot. 106 miles per hour.
And keep in mind, the only practice this family had was in front of the house going 20-30 miles per hour.
Kathy wanted to have another go at it. “One more time lets just do one more time. If we don’t hit it, the 106 stands. We’re not going to lose anything by trying one more time.”
Pass four- “108.5, Kathy said. “And everyone was even more excited. We were overjoyed. Not only did we beat the record, we smashed the record.”
Just like that, this family is one that has gone from recovery to record-holding.
And the best part? As far as that record goes. Dave said, “Records are made to be broken.” This is just the beginning.