Here’s the technology that helped create the world’s fastest tractor

It’s amazing what technology can do. Farm tractors spend most of their plodding along at walking pace, but this one can go over 100 mph.

The JCB Fastrac 8000 just broke the record for world’s fastest tractor, with a top speed of 103.6 mph. The record was broken at a British airfield, with television personality and motorcycle racer Guy Martin at the wheel. Martin smashed the previous record of 87.27 mph, which was set in 2018 on Top Gear, using “tame racing driver” The Stig.

JCB, a large British manufacturer of tractors and construction equipment, needed some help to get more speed out of its machine. So it turned to Williams Advanced Engineering, the engineering arm of the Williams Formula One team, which JCB sponsors. Williams currently makes the slowest cars on the F1 grid but, having worked on things like the scrapped Jaguar C-X75 supercar, it was more than up to the task of helping to design the world’s fastest tractor.

Williams made some aerodynamic changes to the otherwise barn-like tractor, and helped remove weight. Some of the weight-saving measures included fitting the Fastrac 8000 with a tiny fuel tank, and using the chassis from a lighter-duty 4000-series Fastrac model, according to Farmers Weekly.

The tractor is powered by a 7.2-liter six-cylinder diesel engine making 1,000 horsepower and 1,843 pound-feet of torque. Two turbochargers and an electric supercharger allow the engine to make that prodigious level of power. Farmers Weekly also reports that the stock continuously variable transmission (CVT) was swapped for a ZF six-speed manual from a semi truck. The stock four-wheel drive system was also ditched. All power is sent to the rear wheels through an axle with no differential.

Automotive speed records can sometimes kick off arms races among competing manufacturers, but it’s unclear if, say, John Deere or New Holland will pick up the gauntlet thrown down by JCB. But the Fastrac 8000 isn’t the only improbably fast vehicle to set a record recently.

According to Guinness World Records, the Honda Mean Mower is now the quickest lawn mower from zero to 100 mph, with a time of 6.285 seconds. It’s also likely the only lawn mower that can reach 100 mph, period. The Mean Mower is powered by a 190-hp engine from a Honda CBR1000RR motorcycle.

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