Enterprising JCB Fastrac flies with Guy Martin at Elvington, near York


To be frank, Iain Robertson was unsure whom ought to be lauded for establishing a new British Speed Record for tractors, TV daredevil and likeable oaf Guy Martin, or engaging agricultural specialist JCB, as both are reputed for breaking records.

JCB’s high-speed Fastrac tractor has notched up a top whack of 103.6mph on the two-miles long main runway of Elvington Airfield, near The City of York, with occasional TV presenter and engineering fiddle-smith Guy Martin behind the wheel. The monster tractor smashed the previous 87.27mph record set in March 2018 by Top Gear’s Track-Tor, which, if you needed reminding, was a 500bhp small-block Chevy-powered, flame-belching, tyre-squealing and much-modified tractor.

A delighted Guy Martin, who had been commissioned by JCB for the driving task, commented (following judicious translation): “It had been a great day with the JCB at Elvington, proper job with some right proper engineers. She felt rock steady on the runway, job’s a peach.”

A team of JCB’s top engineers has been working on the ‘secret’ project to develop the tractor over the past few months and JCB Chairman, Lord Bamford, praised their ‘amazing achievement’, when he outlined: “We’ve long harboured a dream to attempt a speed record with the Fastrac and the whole team has worked tirelessly to achieve this amazing result. I’m extremely proud of what they have achieved in such a short space of time. It is British engineering at its best and it really does highlight the skills and innovation we have in our engineering team. They have done a truly fantastic job.”

It was Lord Bamford’s intuitive concept to develop a tractor, which would have a higher than expected road speed, a capacity to indulge in intense field work and the speed record achieved only recently came precisely 28 years to the day since the first production example of Fastrac rolled off the Staffordshire production lines.

Based on the specialist vehicle manufacturer’s Fastrac farm tractor, the record-breaking device is powered by JCB’s own 7.2 litre, 6-cylinder DieselMax engine that is produced at its factory in Derbyshire. This powerhouse unit is capable of delivering 1,000bhp and an immensely impressive 1,844lbs ft of torque, which is ideal for towing US-style multi-bladed ploughs and harrows. The Fastrac developed for the speed record had been put on a serious weight reduction programme, to remove all non-essential accessories and the additional hydraulic and electronic units needed for its normal workload. In addition, it had its aerodynamics enhanced with the help of Williams Advanced Engineering (a division of its Grand Prix enterprise) and its wind tunnel in Oxfordshire. Yet, while being stripped for action, the core construction of what is still a purpose-built tractor remained as standard, meaning that (while unlikely) it could be repurposed as a regular Fastrac in due course.

Naturally, as a leading player in the industrial sector, JCB is no stranger to publicity stunts and has established several land speed records in previous years. In 2006, its DieselMax streamliner set a new diesel Land Speed Record, when it reached a phenomenal 350.092mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, in the USA. Using two JCB DieselMax engines, the streamliner set a record that still stands to this day. If you wish to view the video of the World Record beating Fastrac, use the following link: