What happens when you pair Williams Formula One team with British industrial equipment manufacturer JCB? You get one hell of a fast tractor that can absolutely destroy the previous British tractor speed record, and a soon-to-be released documentary about the whole process.
The numbers on this bad boy are pretty impressive. The 7.2-litre diesel engine generates 1000 horsepower and 836kg-feet of torque, JCB’s press release announced. And with former motorcycle racer and TV presenter Guy Martin behind the wheel, the Fastrac 8000 hit a whopping 167km/h.
— JCB (@JCBmachines) June 21, 2019
The Williams F1 team played a pretty essential role here in helping JCB lighten the tractor and improve its aerodynamics. Here are some more specs from a Farmers Weekly feature, to really give you an idea of what kind of changes you’d need to make to a giant piece of farm equipment to make it go that fast:
Keen-eyed readers will notice that the Agco unit used in production Fastracs has been ditched, although a standard off-the-shelf crankshaft has been used, along with a large common rail fuel system running upgraded injectors.
Tweaks to the block include improved valve seats, uprated conrods and auxiliary piston cooling, all designed to cope with the increased heat.
Out goes the Agco CVT and in its place is a ZF manual six-speeder usually found in a lorry, running a multiplate wet clutch system.
The record was set at Elvington Airfield, near York and was, apparently, pretty fun to drive. To quote Guy Martin: “She felt rock steady on the runway, job’s a peach.”
The whole scheme was dreamed up by JCB Chairman Lord Bramford, AKA Anthony Bamford, AKA Tony Bams, if we’re keeping it cool and casual and American, himself. The goal behind the Fastrac series itself is to create tractors that have higher road speeds but are still capable of performing their field work. It’s pretty much the natural progression of things to then want to see exactly how fast you can make the thing go.
One of the more interesting parts about this particular tractor speed record is that the tractor actually... still looks like a normal tractor. If you check out Matt LeBlanc’s previous record-holding tractor from Top Gear, you’ll notice that it’s moved pretty far beyond the realm of what we normally consider a tractor to look like. Basically, after its alterations, it looks like a machine designed solely to go fast without having any of its original capacity for work
JCB, though, kept their alterations pretty simple. Their high speed tractor looks pretty much like the normal industrial ones you see tooling about in the fields—which I think is pretty neat. It’s one thing to make something fast by taking away its original function. It’s entirely another to make something fast and practical.
Details about the build process and actual speed test itself aren’t widely available yet, but stay tuned. British television network Channel 4 has filmed a documentary about the whole shebang, which is intended to air later this year.