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Marietta man believes he can break tractor land speed record

From left, Dave Archer in the cockpit of the 1961 Allis Chalmers D-19 with Chris Arnold and Shane Schalitz, Archer’s son-in-law’s brother, at the East Coast Timing Associaton in Blytheville, Ark., last week. Archer, 77, believes he will break a land speed record set by his daughter in 2018 in the tractor. (Photo Provided)

MARIETTA — A Marietta man believes he can break a land speed record his daughter set in a farm tractor three years ago.

Dave Archer believes he would have exceeded 108.5 mph last week, but a head wind kept him to just above 100 mph last weekend at the East Coast Timing Association runs at Blytheville, Ark. The event is held at the former Eaker Air Force Base, from where B-52 bombers carrying atomic bombs were ready to strike the former Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Archer was driving the same 1961 Allis Chalmers D-19 his daughter Kathy Schalitz piloted in 2018 and set the land speed record for a farm tractor at 108.5 mph. Three years later and the record still stands.

“I want to break that record,” Archer said.

Archer, his wife Arlene, Shane Schalitz, his son in law’s brother, and Chris Arnold the last week of April traveled to Arkansas to set a new record.

While 100 mph doesn’t sound fast, it is in a farm tractor, according to Archer.

Farm tractors have no suspension, such as springs or shocks, and are not made for speed, he said. At 60 to 70 mph, a small bump as much as a half inch on the road sends tremendous shock waves that multiply through the vehicle and into the driver.

“It will beat you up,” Archer said.

Changes made to the tractor, which did not constitute modifications, were to use drag racing tires which can be inflated with less air, using rubber bushings and changing the angles of the front tires, he said. The ride and performance was better, he said.

“It actually performed pretty good,” Archer said.

With Archer in the cockpit last week, the tractor reached a speed of 100.626, but that was with a head wind of 6 to 8 mph. Everyone else running also posted slower speeds, he said.

That’s why Archer believes he will snap the land speed record in the tractor, possibly in October at the next East Coast Timing Association event, if there’s no head wind to slow him down.

“I’m pretty sure,” he said.

Archer, at 77-years old, is one of three people to drive a farm tractor above 100 mph, the others being his daughter and Jack Donahoe. Donahoe set a record of 101.1 mph in 2016, the speed Schalitz collapsed in 2018.

Schalitz ran in the Class D/GCT, which has since been retired, so she will always hold the record for the class. Archer is participating in the Class FT6/1, of which 100.626 mph is the record in the class.

But he wants to break his daughter’s world record.

“I want to be the fastest in a farm tractor,” Archer said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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