The speed and performance of the flathead Ford V8-powered tractor, built and driven by Jack Donohue of Fletcher, North Carolina, stunned those on hand at a sanctioned land speed event. The event was held recently on a concrete landing strip in Wilmington, Ohio, known as the “Ohio Mile”.
This makes Donohue the second ever man in history to attempt land speed racing on a farm tractor. In 1935, Donohue’s hero, David Abbott (“Ab” Jenkins), a renowned land speed driver, made the first and only known farm tractor land speed record attempt. In August of that year, Jenkins crossed Utah’s Bonneville salt flats at a blistering 67.677 miles per hour on a factory-backed 1932 Allis Chalmers model U.
Jack Donohue has a background in farming and is a former NASCAR driver and car builder. During a recent interview at Donohue’s shop in Fletcher, North Carolina, he talked a little about his upbringing and his 8NCREDIBLE, but especially about his admiration of Jenkins.
“I was raised on a dairy farm and grew up on an 8N. In fact, that was the first thing I ever drove. During the years I was in professional racing, I restored a few 8N tractors, even converted some to V8s as a hobby. I enjoyed it so much that I decided when I retired from NASCAR I might try and to go after the Jenkins tractor record with a racing version of an 8N. Few people, including today’s professional racers, have a foggy clue about who Ab Jenkins was, or a single thing about the feats he accomplished behind the wheel during his lifetime. Forget Clark Kent, Ab Jenkins will always be Superman to me. I admit, I’m very proud of the tractor record but it’s only one of many that Jenkins still holds and this is almost 60 years after his passing”.
When asked if he had any other challenges ahead, Jack stated that he planned to return to the Ohio Mile in the spring of 2016 and try to eclipse the 100mph barrier with his 8N, which he feels can be done with a few mechanical refinements.
Donohue also plans to enter his tractor at the August 2016 Speedweek at the Bonneville salt flats in Wendover, Utah; a dry lake run at El Mirage California in September; and the Texas Mile in Beeville in October. All are sanctioned world land speed record events.