annual two-day tractor ride for twelve years. The route and breaks, through South Dakota the first day and through Nebraska the second day, vary each year, allowing the participants a variety of scenic countryside. It’s a great way to take a break from life in the fast lane and take in nature’s incredible beauty at 12 miles per hour.

The ride has become increasingly popular since it began and has a limit of 200 tractor enthusiasts allowed. Many ladies have taken part, either as a passenger on a tractor equipped for two or a driver of their own tractor. I talked with a few ladies who attended this year’s ride about their experience with tractors, this year’s ride and other rides they have been in.

Marilyn Ashley

Marilyn Ashley, a Lindsay, Nebraska native, is not new to the two-day tractor ride, having taken part in it a handful of times. She’s always liked tractors and remembers their family’s old Alyce Chalmers WC, when she and her brother would sit on top of the flat gas tank and ride along during daily chores.

She and her fiancée Virgil each drive their own tractor, taking part in about five or six local rides through Iowa each year. She has a 1954 Farmall Super H with a blue cultivator, a tractor that she’s had since approximately 2010. She explains that the red tractor and blue cultivator combination tend to stand out in a group. Virgil opts for green, driving a John Deere in the events. The longest ride they have taken part in was taking part in three days of a seven-day trip across Nebraska.

She enjoys being out in the open and taking in all the scenery the rides have to offer. “I like talking to other people on the stops and looking at the other tractors,” she explains. Visiting with the other drivers allows an opportunity to learn from them, often sharing trouble shooting tips and similar experiences. She views the two-day ride as a short vacation for her and Virgil, giving them the chance to visit another town and see its surrounding countryside.

Grace Driver

Grace Driver, from Hartington, Nebraska, took part on her first ride in the two-day tractor ride this year. She drove her own tractor, a 1945 Farmall H, one of the first antique tractors that her grandfather bought.

She rode with several family members. She and both her grandfathers, her father, older brother, older sister and a cousin were in the same group, along with one of her grandfather’s best friends. The motivation from spectators along the route sticks in her memory. Along the route during this ride, she smiled as she heard a stranger yell out to her, “GIRL POWER!“


Laurel Driver

Laurel Driver, from Hartington, Nebraska, is Grace Driver’s sister. She drove for the second time in the two-day ride, taking her grandpa’s Farmall Super M. Her grandpa, Dale Harkness, is the third owner of the tractor. She recalls the tractor being driven many times by her grandpa, brother, cousins, and by her.

Though she has not yet taken part in any other rides, she really enjoys participating in the two-day ride as a family. She reflects, “I think it is really cool that I get to spend time with them driving tractors together.”

Karen Larsen

Karen Larsen, a Viborg, South Dakota native, was also new to this year’s ride. She split the route with her brother, Randy Blunck, and drove on Saturday while he drove on Friday. They used her


Farmall M for the trip, a restored tractor that her husband surprised her with on Mother’s Day in 2009.

She takes part in one to two rides per year, having previously driven the Midway tractor drive and the Hurley tractor drive. She explains her favorite part in participating in rides, “Exactly how it is described, viewing the world at 12 miles per hour. I love to look at the scenery, the farms and the wild flowers and animals.”

She enjoyed her group of fellow drivers this year, taking part in the first group, with Rodger Harts as the leader. “It kept me on my toes. It was fun to be part of such a big group of people just enjoying their hobby,” she states.

Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson, from Yankton, South Dakota, participated in her second two-day tractor ride this year. She drove an International 350 utility tractor for this year’s event, a tractor that her uncle Darrell purchased at an auction. She enjoys being outdoors and


especially likes the routes over flat ground, where she can relax and enjoy nature and the surroundings.

The rides through breathtaking scenery don’t come without challenges, whether from tractor malfunction or traveling through some difficult terrain. This year’s ride will forever be a memory for her, explaining, “So, as a beginner driver I had my struggles with hills, but I was not prepared for

the steep hills of Devil’s Nest. On one steep hill going down, I was slamming the brakes and got quite close to the tractor in front of me. What I did not see coming was that this hill took a sharp curve and immediately dropped into an even steeper hill. I did not have time to stop and shift down, so I held tight and went flying down the hill. The scary thing was that my tractor shade dropped in front of my face, so I was ducking to see the ditch and any tractor tires that were visible. I do not know how many tractors I passed, but my tractor did come to a stop at the bottom of the hill, where I sat quite shaken up. For the rest of the ride the elderly woman riding ahead of me would turn around every ten seconds to make sure I was not going to hit them!”

I J Walters

I J Walters, from Guide Rock, Nebraska was new to the ride this year. She drove a 1957 Case 211 B, the first antique tractor she and her husband bought together. “As soon as my husband bought another, this one became mine,” she said.

Though they take part in five to eight rides in Nebraska every summer through fall, they have not taken part in any South Dakota rides until this one. She enjoys meeting new people on the rides and appreciates the beautiful scenery. The picturesque countryside from each ride stands out vividly in her memory.

Norma Wittmeier

Norma Wittmeier, originally a Lesterville, SD native, now resides in Tyndall, SD. She has participated in every two-day ride and has enjoyed all of them. She previously rode with her husband, Ken and this year she rode with grandson Clay Wittmeier as Ken has passed away. Clay drove her 1987 Deutz as she rode next to him. She reflects, “the tractor ride is one of my favorite things. Ken and I rode all over.” Grandson Clay is continuing his inherited passion for tractors, now attending a John Deere school at Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Norma rode along as passenger while Ken drove them on many rides over the years. They’ve taken part in several local rides and

ventured out of state for rides in Iowa and Nebraska. She recalls going to the Black Hills four or five times, commenting, “I had a good time there, too.” The ride in Lee Valley, Nebraska, was another fond memory of hers, remembering their stop at an auction place, with the ride followed by supper and a dance.

She enjoys the rides and appreciates the scenery on each route.

She reflects over the routes that they have taken over the years and the various images of countryside they have all given her. She loves socializing with others and looks forward to being with long-time friends and meeting new people at the events.

Though each driver and rider are just as unique as each tractor enthusiast’s preferred models, they all share one commonality. Their love for old iron is undeniable and their passion to keep the tradition alive is appreciated by many.