It seems that the record for the fastest tractor in the world is quite an honorable award these days. Back in 2018, Top Gear first set a world record in that discipline by doing 87.27 miles per hour (140.44 kilometers per hour) at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in the United Kingdom. This summer, motorcycle racer and TV presenter Guy Martin took down that record with a JBL Fastrac 8000 tractor, modified to hit 103.6 mph (166.72 kph) on Yorkshire's Elvington Airfield. That wasn’t enough for the British engineering company and Martin and the team decided to try and reach even higher speeds.
Gallery: The world's fastest tractor
On October 23, they returned to Elvington and Martin recorded an average speed of 135.191 mph (217.570 kph) and further extended the record with a top speed of 153.7 mph (247.35 kph). The average speed is now registered as a Guinness World Record for the fastest tractor on the planet. It’s important to note that, for a new world speed record, Guinness takes the average speed of two consecutive runs in opposite directions to account for variable conditions such as wind or an incline.
Guy Martin is no stranger to weird speed records as he currently holds records for the fastest speed on a gravity-powered snow sled (83.49 mph/134.368 kph), the fastest soapbox (85.61 mph/137.78 kph), and highest speed on a Wall of Death (78.15 mph/25.77 kph). He admits that he just likes “going fast” and that “if it’s something a bit risky I’m all for it.”
The JCB tractor used for the new speed record is powered by a 7.2-liter diesel engine, modified to deliver about 1,000 horsepower (746 kilowatts) and 1,843 pound-feet (2,500 Newton-meters) of torque. The original CVT gearbox has been replaced by a six-speed transmission and a smaller, lighter, and more aerodynamic cabin has been also installed.
“It doesn’t feel like a tractor [to drive]. From the outside, it looks like a tractor but it doesn’t sit in and it doesn’t go anything like a tractor,” Martin says.