INDIANAPOLIS – Austin Haywood of the Hastings FFA Chapter in Michigan is the 2016 Grand Champion of the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition. He restored his great grandfather’s 1957 Farmall 350 Diesel.
Competitors restore a tractor that has been a working piece of equipment on their farms. They document the restoration by taking pictures, recording video and logging their work. The top 12 are selected to attend the National FFA Convention & Expo. Finalists present and the judges ask questions to test their tractor knowledge. The top three are selected, and first place receives $10,000. The winner takes their tractor to different trade shows across the country.
Haywood’s tractor restoration is meaningful for his family. “It’s special to me because it was my great grandfather’s tractor. Some of my first memories on a tractor are with him on this one. I did everything I could to repair and restore it back to what it was when it was originally bought,” Haywood said.
His passion for restoring tractors runs in the family. “My dad and uncle restored tractors when they were in high school. I was in fifth grade when I did my first tractor restoration to a tractor that has been on my family’s farm. This is the second tractor I have restored through the competition. My younger brother is currently competing, and it’s exciting to help him.”
Haywood advises other FFA members to seek help when refurbishing a tractor. “Get help and guidance where you need it. An issue some people see is the funding; reach out to your community members. There’s a lot of people who are supportive of this. They like seeing youth do ag mechanics because it’s becoming a little bit of a lost art. The website for the competition is helpful and has tips.”
Visit delotractorrestorationcompetition.com for more information and to see who wins the 2017 contest, announced this week during convention. Watch Haywood’s tractor restoration video below.
Lauren Schwab is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She works full time on her family’s pig farm as the farrowing house manager. She is a freelance writer and blogger at farmgirlwithcurls.com.