Local family sets tractor speed record

Published: Jun. 6, 2018 at 10:28 PM EDT
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On 900 acres in Churchtown, Ohio, is a family with a unique hobby.

They’re building a land speed tractor, hoping to break the world record when they went to the Arkansas 1 Mile Challenge.

“What we've got here is a 262 cubic inch Buda Engine that we modified quite a bit. And built our own intake and exhaust, and about everything on it we had to build other than the block and the head but it's the original engine that came in it which was an old pulling tractor that I used about 50 years ago.” Explains Dave Archer, the man who with his family, built the speed tractor.

Their Allis Chalmers tractor, known as The Pioneer, was an underdog in the competition having both a driver and a tractor that had never competed in a land speed event.

The driver, Kathy Schulitz, says “We just kind of said we're just going to see what happens. We're just going to put it all out there and see how it handles and see how we finish. Maybe we'll be close to where we want to be, maybe we won't.”

On The Pioneer's first official run, it clocked in at 106 miles per hour. Shattering the 101 mph record set by a NASCAR driver in 2015; and making Shalitz the first woman to drive that class of tractor over 100 miles per hour. Plus they still had one more run they were allowed to make.

“Us being us, we decided to compete against ourselves a little bit. And really once again just put it all out there. We kind of said well maybe we could get a little more power out of it, maybe it could go a little faster. And it did.” Says Shalitz

On the second pass The Pioneer went 108.5 miles per hour, to set the current world record.

Shalitz explains, “Even if I had missed the former gentleman's record I guess I could have still said I was the first female but I wanted to be the first person. That factor was good but not enough. I wanted to be, nope, nobody has done it yet, female or not.”

She says, “It can get a little intense and some of the passes did get a little squirrely and a little intense. But that comes from experience and learning how to handle those situations.”

Schalitz' father, Dave Archer had the vision to build a land speed tractor after years of experience in tractor pulling.

“Since I was about 14 I've been kind of a car guy. And I was in drag racing and tractor pulling and we have a great race car that we run in the Great American Race. We did a lot of pulling we pulled all over the country, 36 states went to Canada 5 or 6 times we were in Europe twice with 4 or 5 engine tractors.” Archer explains.

He decided to make the switch from pulling to speeding after he got sick a few years ago.

“It was fun because I could come out at night and if I had enough energy to do an hour or two I did it and if not I waited ‘til later.” Archer says, “So it took a little longer to do it than maybe most people would have done or had the time to do but at this particular time it worked out good for me, it was good therapy.”

And he certainly wasn't in it alone.

Shalitz explains, “It is definitely a family affair. It just, like I said, it just started in his brain and none of us knew what was going on and when he approached me about driving we kind of, there was like a moment of silence and we just stared at each other for a minute.”

“Arlene helps me a lot on it she's built a lot of them too and Kathy. So Kathy came out of a short retirement to take a drive on this thing and she did a heck of a job.” Archer adds.

“I'm a competitive person, a competitive person, we're a competitive family.”

Shalitz even met her husband on the track.

“His father and my father were friends and we grew up tractor pulling together which is kind of weird and you know, but it's kind of a unique story.”

They say if anyone beats their record, they’ll be ready to get out and try again.