Modified Ford 8N (Re)Built for Speed
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We followed the dust and watched him fly south and turn around by the bridge. We heard him rev it up, come flying over the hill and hit the brakes by the silo so he didn’t slide through the dead end. Dad’s cousin, Keith, would come home and Dad would get out the tractor. He would even dare to take a wild ride, standing on the three-point and hanging on for dear life.
Flying down the track
Friday came and Mom packed a goodie bag for the races. The Ford 8N was loaded and waiting for Dad to get done milking cows. He’d take a quick bath, put on his whites and we all loaded into the pickup to head to the races. I loved to sit in the middle and wait for the chance to get to shift.
I loved going to the races. We’d be watching the race when all of a sudden we’d see Dad tearing across the front straight-away or the back stretch like a banshee. The crowd would cheer with delight at the agricultural wonder. We’d puff up and make sure everyone knew that was OUR dad. We’d judge the pushes he gave racecars and once in a while they couldn’t even get away from him. He had more power than the sprint cars. Dad had a red flashing light on the back. When one of those sprint cars took a wild ride, Dad would flip it on and beat everybody to the accident. That tractor had power to spare. Before Dad had a trailer he drove the tractor to the local track. Mom said one time he drug a Corvette from a red light and won!
We took the Nordstrom Special to racetracks all over the Midwest with Huset’s Speedway crew. Dad was active in tractor pulls and it wasn’t unusual to see him and the Ford tractor flying down the track, wheels spinning and cowboy hat rolling behind in a wave of dirt.
Conversion with attitude
After the races, I loved going to the pits. I made sure to touch that shiny, hot dirt on the track. It was so steep walking down through the gate of Corner 1. I loved the noise, smell and excitement and wanted to drive. We’d pick up the used tear-offs from the helmets, clean them up and put elastic on them, and wear them when we rode our bikes. We had races every day of the summer around the pump house, flags and all.
When Dad loaded the Ford on the trailer, he always had an audience. People loved that tractor. Those old farmers would stand in awe and try to figure out how Dad got that big motor in a stock Ford 8N. There used to be Funk V8 conversions, but this one had those beat hands-down. It was a conversion with attitude. Us kids would pile in the pickup for the drive home. I loved to sit in the middle, look out the windshield at the stars and listen to Dad talk about the accidents and who was illegal as I drifted off to sleep. Next thing I knew, we’d be home. I’d wake up when Dad shut off the pickup and put the Ford away. I’d walk to the house, carrying my racing programs and tear-offs. Practically in a coma, I’d climb into bed, where I’d dream about the next weekend’s races.