If you haven’t yet participated in a tractor drive, you don’t know what you’re missing. That’s what those who have participated in one typically say.
“I do it because of the fellowship with the other drivers,” says Dick Kruse, Indianapolis. “It’s neat to see all the tractors, but it’s neater to talk to people you’ve met along the way going to tractor drives.”
Kruse is heavily involved in caring for antique machinery at Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. But he attends tractor drives whenever he can, often on a Minneapolis-Moline U.
Delphi FFA held its third annual tractor drive on June 17. Thirty-seven drivers paid to drive the 25-mile route through northwestern Carroll County. Money raised goes to a scholarship fund for the FFA members.
“People think of corn, soybeans and hogs when they come to Carroll County,” says Doug Walker, FFA advisor and vocational-agriculture instructor. “But we also have rivers and some really scenic areas in the county.” This year’s drive highlighted all aspects of Carroll County. Both the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers run through the county. Delphi is the county seat.
Many of the tractors in the drive were restored in the Delphi Community High School vo-ag shop. Walker says students typically restore about five tractors per year in his ag mechanics program. That’s in addition to many other projects they complete during the year in ag mechanics, including building outside metal flower boxes for the school, and benches and many other items for the Indiana FFA Leadership Center in Trafalgar.
A native of north-central Indiana and a farm boy, Walker started his teaching career at Forest Park High School. Between the two places, he estimates his classes have restored about 40 tractors.
Not every tractor in the drive was an antique tractor in restored condition. A few older tractors are in good running order but not yet restored. A couple of late 1970s-era Allis-Chalmers tractors came in their working clothes. A newer, larger John Deere tractor also made the drive.
Nearly 50 tractors participated in the first Delphi FFA Tractor Drive two years ago. This year’s number was up slightly from a year ago, when rain threatened the event. “We got wet last year,” Walker recalls, “and it rained on us just at the end of the drive the first year, as everyone was trying to load up their tractors on trailers to go home. This is the first year we got by without rain.”
The Carroll County Antique Machinery Association is a big supporter of Delphi FFA and the tractor drive. Several members attend the drive each year.
Take the virtual tour here to see what it’s like to view the drive from the seat of a tractor. The only thing missing is the fellowship with other drivers. The only way to experience that part is to attend a drive, Kruse says.
Here are three opportunities to attend a tractor drive yet this year.
• Fifth annual Kirklin area enthusiasts country tractor drive. This drive starts at the Clinton Central FFA ag shop on 8 a.m. Aug. 19. This year’s drive stops at a local attraction, A Summer Place, created to simulate a 1950s town; it was started by one person in his backyard. Registration to drive is $20. Call Gary Spray at 765-279-8932 or Jack Robbins at 765-659-8400.
• Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Show. A tractor drive is held on Aug. 22 in Jay County the day before the official start of this long-standing event. To find contact information for the show, visit tristategasenginetractor.com.
• Half Century of Progress Show. The show starts Aug. 24 in Rantoul, Ill. It is held every other year, when the Farm Progress Show is in Decatur, Ill. The Farm Progress Show is Aug. 29-31. The tractor drive officially opens the Half Century of Progress Show, departing Rantoul at 7 a.m. CDT. Show gates open at the same time. Learn more at halfcenturyofprogress.com.