A man and his tractor: Guy Martin and the world-speed record-setting Fastrac Two (Images: JCB)
Perhaps this somehow got by us, but did you know that there is a Guinness World Record for the fastest agricultural tractor? Apparently it has been set by Guy Martin, a man who evidently likes to go fast in all manner of transport devices, in a modified JCB Fastrac tractor: 135.191 mph.
Yes, a tractor.
The run was made at Elvington Airfield in York. The Fastrac Two tractor had to make two runs that were then averaged. The fastest of the two was 153.771 mph. Word is that the normal top speed of a JCB Fastrac is on the order of 41 mph.
The JCB tractor was modified by a team consisting of people from JCB, Ricardo, and Williams Advanced Engineering. They took as their starting position the Fastrac One tractor (both tractors are based on the standard, commercially available Fastrac), which had set a record time of 103.6 mph this past summer).
This would be the kind of tractor you’d like to be behind on a two-lane highway: the engine produces over 1,000 hp.
According to Ricardo, they used virtual reality for design reviews that allowed engineers from the companies to collaborate digitally. There was a virtual wind tunnel developed to identify areas where drag could be reduced.
Ricardo VECTIS software was used for computational fluid dynamics on the exterior.
The Fastrac Two cab is 200 mm lower and 300 mm narrower than a standard tractor, and the overall vehicle was also reduced 200 mm in height. Cab air deflectors were developed and other aero elements—front splitter, belly plate and rear diffuser—were added to the tractor. Overall, there is 10% less drag than the Fastrac One.
They reduced the weight of the vehicle—ordinarily on the order of 8.5 tonnes—to 5 tonnes through measures like using aluminum panels in place of steel.
Ricardo IGNITE powertrain optimization and WAVE gas dynamics simulation software were used to improve the JCB Dieselmax 7.2-liter, six-cylinder engine, which ordinarily produces 284 hp. The engine now produces over 1,016 hp.
They use a hybrid boost system with a 350% increase in airflow, deploying a larger turbo and an electrically driven turbocharger. There is a 2500-bar fuel pump, bigger inlet manifolds, and an ice water charged air cooler. They increased the boost pressure by 230% and the engine speed by 165% (to 3,300 rpm).
According to Guinness, Guy Martin also holds records for the fastest speed on a gravity-powered snow sled (83.49 mph), the fastest soapbox (85.61 mph), and the highest speed on a motorcycle Wall of Death (78.15 mph).
83.49 mph on a sled? Somehow it makes going 135.191 mph in a large piece of agricultural equipment seem like a proverbial walk in the park.
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