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Farm family sets speed record with tractor

Farm family sets speed record with tractor

An Allis Chalmers D19 traveled 108.5 mph

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A father and daughter duo turned a slow-moving tractor into a supercharged speed machine.

Dave Archer, a beef farmer from Marietta, Ohio and owner of Pioneer Pipe, a fabrication company, modified a 1961 Allis Chalmers D19 in an attempt to break a land speed record.

A 1952 Ford 8N set the record in 2015 with a speed of 96 mph (154 km/h)

Archer came up with the idea while recovering from an intense surgery.

“I pulled tractors all over the world for about 48 years, but I had double lung surgery two years ago,” Archer told “When I was laying around the hospital, I started to research land speed records and developed an interest in it. I used it as a therapy project at night, so I could get back to work.”

Allis Chalmers produced the D19 from 1961 to 1964. It ranged from 66.92 horsepower to 71.54 hp, depending on the type of fuel the tractor had. And it had a maximum speed of 13.9 mph (22.4 km/h).

The tractor holds a special place in Archer’s heart.

“That was my original farm stock pulling tractor,” he said. “My wife found one in Pennsylvania about 25 years ago and bought it for me. I had it out in the shed and thought it would be a good tractor to start with.”

Archer’s modifications included specialty tires, a roll cage, a flywheel shield and a parachute. But at its core, the machine is still a farm tractor.

“It doesn’t have any springs or suspension,” said Archer. “People kept telling me to put springs on it, but then it would’ve become a modified tractor. I spent a lot of time modifying the engine, but the engine, the transmission and almost everything you can see is original to the tractor.”

After Archer had his design, he needed a driver. Enter his daughter, Kathy Schalitz.

She is a champion tractor puller, but “she looked at me like I was nuts when I asked her to drive it,” Archer said.

With a tractor built and a driver secured, the two ran some local practice tests. Kathy reached speeds of about 30 mph in front of her home.

From there, the pair traveled to Arkansas to compete in an East Coast Timing Association event on a former military base. They had the only tractor at the event.

“People were looking at us like we’re out of our cage,” Archer said. “They made her go through the rookie training, but little did they know she’s got experience driving 15,000 hp pulling tractors for almost 10 years.”

The tractor reached a speed of 45mph on the first pass. Kathy got the tractor up to about 70 mph on the second run.

“She came back to me and said that she’s barely opened this thing up,” Archer said.

The first official run Kathy made in the tractor saw her reach a top speed of 106 mph, which got everyone’s attention.

“Word started spreading and people started to come to the track to see what was going on,” Archer said. “We had quite a crowd before we made our next pass.”

The team needed two passes to set an official speed record.

On the fourth attempt, Kathy drove the tractor 108.5 mph, (174 km/h) beating the previous pass by 2.5mph.

Despite setting a new land speed record, Archer is confident his Allis Chalmers could challenge anyone who may break the one he and his daughter set.

“This thing is built to go much faster than the speeds we hit,” he said. “I built it with the idea in mind it would be like a 250 to 300mph car. If someone breaks our record, we’ll be waiting.”

Comments (2)

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My freind and I have both owned d 19's in our life so the story was a good topic over coffee today.
c gniffke |Nov 13 2018 11:45AM
I have only drove 2 allis tractors in my 63 yrs operating farm tractors and a D19 was one of them. A great tractor on a square baler. Also one of the lighter tractors of that vintage so it may well be a vary choice for that application. I find this article vary interesting
Doug White |Nov 12 2018 6:40PM