Whaat? 1952 Ford 8N sets land speed record of 96.3185 mph

Jack Donohue and the 8NCREDIBLE

FLETCHER, N.C. — A 1952 Ford 8N tractor dubbed the “8NCREDIBLE,” has taken the title of world’s fastest farm tractor, reaching a speed of 96.3185 miles per hour and breaking an Ab Jenkins tractor land speed record that stood unchallenged for 81 years.

The speed and performance of the flathead Ford V8 powered tractor, built and driven by Jack Donohue of Fletcher, North Carolina, stunned those on hand at a sanctioned land speed event held recently on a concrete landing strip in Wilmington, Ohio, known as the “Ohio Mile.”

Donohue is only the second man in history to attempt land speed racing on a farm tractor. In 1935, Donohue’s hero, David Abbott “Ab” Jenkins made the first and only farm tractor land speed record attempt known to exist. In August of that year, Jenkins crossed Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, at a blistering 67.677 miles per hour on a factory-backed 1932 Allis Chalmers model U.

From farm to NASCAR

Jack Donohue was a NASCAR driver in the mid-70s, and has a car building shop in Fletcher, North Carolina. Raised on a dairy farm in Ontario, Canada, he grew up on an 8N — the first thing he ever drove. And to Donohue, the speeding Jenkins was an icon.

“Forget Clark Kent,” Donohue said, “Ab Jenkins will always be Superman to me.”

The 8NCREDIBLE antique tractor
A 1952 Ford 8N tractor dubbed the “8NCREDIBLE,” has taken the title of world’s fastest farm tractor, reaching a speed of 96.3185 miles per hour.

During the years he was in professional racing, he restored a few 8N tractors, and converted some to V8’s as a hobby. When he retired, he decided to try and go after the Jenkins tractor record with a racing version of an 8N.

“Few people, including today’s professional racers, have a foggy clue who Ab Jenkins was, or a single thing about feats he accomplished behind the wheel during his lifetime,” Donohue said. “I admit, I’m very proud of the tractor record, but it’s only one of many that Jenkins still holds and this is almost 60 years after his passing.”

More attempts

Donohue plans to return to the Ohio Mile in the spring to try to eclipse the 100 mile per hour barrier with his 8N, which he feels with a few mechanical refinements, can be done. Donohue also plans to enter his tractor at the August 2016 Speedweek at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah; a dry lake run at El Mirage, California, in September and the “Texas Mile “ in Beeville, Texas in October. All are sanctioned World Land Speed Record events.

In addition to his 2016 racing stops, he is scheduled to appear with his 8NCREDIBLE at various agricultural events and farm equipment shows across the country. You can follow updates on his Facebook page or at http://jackdonohue.com/.


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  1. I can’t believe it took that long to figure out how to go that fast on a 8N. I own and know a little about these tractors. The Sherman step up/ Overdrive auxiliary transmission doubled the speed of a stock 8N to approximately 30 mph. The std. 4 cyl. engine turned approximately 2000 rpm.
    Install the flathead V8 and turn it 6000 RPM. That’s 90 mph. With a little tweak here and there, sounds easy to do. Getting it to steer would take some doing but feasible. Perhaps having the desire and courage took all those years to break the record.


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