Wasted Nights!

Wasted Nights Modified Pulling Tractor
The Wasted Nights Limited Mod is part of the Red River Valley’s pulling history…with an interesting connection to a 80s county fair legend! It sells to the highest bidder on Monday!

See the details on the Wasted Nights mod here.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time (or you got here because of the email), you know that I’ve been a fan of tractor pulling since I was 8 years old. So, when Wasted Nights showed up on Allen Henslin’s auction for Jeff Janke this week, I was pretty excited. Finally, a pulling tractor to write about!

Wasted Nights is a mod with a good storyline, and a neat connection to a county fair staple from the 80s. More on that in a minute…

Wasted Nights modified pulling tractor
Wasted Nights is definitely an old-style mod, but who says you can’t have fun kickin’ it old-skool? Click the photo to see the rest of the photos and auction details.

History

Back in the late 90s, Gene Brend and Jeff Janke partnered up on this tractor, which came from a couple of local truck pullers who weren’t doing anything with it. They repainted it, got it into shape, and campaigned it pretty successfully for about 15 years! As Gene was a die-hard Chevy mechanic, and it always sported a big block – usually a 454 punched out to about 477 cubes. Bowtie power won three points championships in the 6200 pound Limited Mod class with the Central Minnesota Pullers with it too! in the 6200 pound Limited Mod and 6500 pound Mod class. I talked to Jeff this morning for about a half hour, and it sounds like he and Gene had a lot of fun with it! They won three points championships with it, too!

Sadly, Gene had some health problems and had to park the tractor. It’s been a while since the tractor has gone down the track – probably 7 or 8 years (maybe more). He’d always had plans to get it back together after his health improved, but unfortunately the health problems got worse. Sadly, Gene passed away in 2019. Before he passed away, though, he left the tractor to Jeff. He told him, “Get it running again and go have fun with it, or get it in the hands of someone who’ll continue with what we started.”

Jeff recently got it back together for this auction. His intent is to give most of the proceeds of the sale to Gene’s kids.

Specs

The Wasted Nights mod was really built for the 6200 pound Limited Mod classes in central and western Minnesota. However, it also was pretty darn competitive in the 6500 pound classes when they weighted up.

Today, I believe the class is allowed a 530 cubic inch V8 on gas or alcohol, with one carb, and (this was a new one for me) a single stage of nitrous. Back when Wasted Nights was regularly competing, though, the cube limit was 485. Jeff put it back together using those rules. It’s got a fresh 454 in it, aluminum ‘Vette heads, and a Holley 1050 Dominator on top. It’s also jetted for nitrous, but it’s not currently installed. Gene always figured that the motor was good for 900 horsepower. I got the feeling from Jeff that Gene’s number might’ve been a little optimistic, but with a little tuning, I’m sure it’s within reach.

Wasted Nights modified pulling tractor
Here’s the heartbeat of Wasted Nights…a fresh Chevy big block 454!

On the chassis/driveline side, it’s got a planetary rear end setup from a Ford log skidder. The power transfers through a Turbo 400 transmission. In that class, that’s a fairly bulletproof combo. I know the chassis is solid, and it hooks up to the track really well.

What it needs

Overall, Wasted Nights has good bones. Most importantly, it’s got a good chassis that hooks. You can have the best motor and driveline in the world, but if the chassis isn’t right, none of it’ll do you any good. That said, there are a few things that need some attention before you can go waste nights of your own on the track!

Jeff has most of the wiring finished, but I know he didn’t get around to the kill switch. There might’ve been one or two other things too – maybe the tach and some dashboard stuff.

Wasted Nights Modified Pulling Tractor
It’s not perfect; it’ll need some work to get it in competitive shape, but in the right class, this thing would be a BLAST!

The motor would definitely benefit from a trip to a race shop with a dyno. Pulling motors are pretty high-strung, and to run their best, you really need a professional to dial ’em in. Jeff advised that the heads should be re-torque’d, the timing should be checked. Furthermore, this motor has a pretty high-lift camshaft; spending some time finding the sweet spot with valve lash would definitely be time well spent. Aside from snapping a rod, breaking a rocker is about the most destructive internal failure you can have. A good engine builder can probably get this motor lined out fairly easily.

Lastly, I think I’d probably recommend giving the tires a once-over. They look reasonably good to me in the photos, but I’m sure it’s been a while since the lugs have been sharpened. Sharp, smooth lugs definitely bite the track better – and in the sport of inches…you take every advantage you can!

The County Fair Connection

So how many of you have heard of The Silver Bullet? No, not that one.

SilverBullet
Oops…wrong Silver Bullet.

THIS one. The Coors Light-sponsored Silver Bullet “jumping combine”.

Silver Bullet Jumping Combine
The Silver Bullet was a big hit on the county fair circuit during the 80s!

The Silver Bullet was the brainchild of a guy named Ernie Brookins, an event promoter from Fargo. At the time, Ernie and his wife Gail were promoting combine demolition derbies in the midwest, but Ernie had a crazy idea to jump a combine over a car Evel-Knievel-style as a promo thing for the derbies. What’s even better was that he got Coors to sponsor the build!

The “combine” was basically a tube-frame chassis, a big block, and a hollowed-out combine body sitting on top of it. Ernie would jump the 1450-horse monster during the intermission of his demolition derby shows. It was a weird form of entertainment, but it definitely got the crowd’s attention! It got the attention of Hollywood, too – in 1987, it was featured in a movie called Race For The Harvest!

Anyway, Ernie and Gail ran this combine all over the country for about five years, from 1985-1990 before retiring it and moving on to other ventures.

So what’s the connection?

Shortly after Gene & Jeff started pulling Wasted Nights, they windowed the block of the motor they’d been running. They were in a bind, because it was the middle of the points chase, and they needed a new motor in a bad way. Well, Gene made a few phone calls to some of his circle-track buddies in Fargo – one of whom had ties to Ernie. A day or two later, Ernie brought one of the backup combine motors out and sold it to them! They bolted it into the chassis and away they went!

Here’s the best part…some of the parts from that motor are STILL in the tractor today! Jeff couldn’t remember if it was the camshaft or the crankshaft, but one of ’em came from the Silver Bullet! I think that’s a pretty cool little tie to the past, don’t you?

What’s it worth?

I have no idea. Our Iron Comps database covers millions of points of data from all kinds of farm equipment, but I’m pretty certain this will be the only modified pulling tractor in it! It’ll be fun to watch this one sell on Monday, June 28!

Get the auction details (and the full sale bill) here.

Farmall Land: Where tractors, history, and passion collide.

Cutting to the chase…

First, let’s cut to the chase before we get into some of the stories. As of the time I publish this post, you’ll have about 10 days to get to Avoca to see Farmall Land. After 5PM on Sunday, September 27, Jerry & Joyce Mez are retiring, off to travel the world and spoil their grandkids! Subsequently, our friends at Girard Auctions will be sending everything off to new owners. Everything will be sold through a series of online auctions (the land and the buildings too) beginning later this fall. You’ll be able to find all of the details for the tractors and equipment on Tractor Zoom, so keep an eye on the site!

Farmall Land USA
Is this Heaven? Nope…it’s Farmall Land.

Now…on to the stories.

In the event you’re a red fan, the long lines of flourescent lights probably give it away. Today, we’re celebrating one of the coolest collections of interesting red iron on the planet. Welcome to Farmall Land USA. 

If you’ve ever wondered what true passion looks like, Farmall Land USA is where you’ll find the answer. From the moment you walk in the doors and sign the 3-ring binder guest book on the table, you’ll not only see the passion – you’ll feel it. Over the past 50 or so years, Jerry & Joyce Mez have built an utterly amazing collection of the red machinery that built this country. They genuinely appreciate the opportunity to show it to anybody who walks through their doors, too.

The Dealership Days

Jerry’s grown up around red tractors almost all of his life. The Mez family moved to Avoca, IA from Falls City, NE and Max (Jerry’s father) opened Avoca Implement in 1943 when Jerry was just a toddler. The dealership was quite successful, and eventually expanded to locations in Greenfield, IA and (for a short time) Atlantic, IA. Jerry & Joyce sold both dealerships to Titan Machinery in 2008. The museum has been their full-time focus since then.

“Since I was 3 years old, everything I have is attributable to farm equipment,” Jerry said in a 2010 INTERVIEW.

 

Jerry began collecting red tractors in the mid-70s when he got out of the Army. The first one in the collection? One of the first tractors his Dad ever sold, a Farmall F-20. It was all downhill from there! Jerry & Joyce have close to 220 tractors in the collection now (nearly all of them pre-merger tractors), give or take a few. You’ll usually find about 150 on display at any given time.

Favorite Tractors

The Farmall 1206

So what’s his favorite? A Farmall 1206 narrow-front that his father sold new out of the Avoca dealership to a local farmer in 1966. Jerry bought it back from the original owner in 1988. When I last talked with Jerry in late June, this 1206 was one of the few that he was planning on keeping after retiring from the museum.

Jerry’s favorite 1206. Photo provided courtesy of Octane Press – authors of the Red Tractors series of books. Click the photo to learn more about the series!
The ih 4300

In addition to his 1206, another favorite that Jerry really enjoys showing off is a 1962 IH 4300 – one of the rarest production tractors IH ever built! IH didn’t build many to start with (I think the number was in the low-mid 40s; they were essentially built-to-order by Hough). Many were used pretty hard by construction companies, and Jerry believes there are only about six of them known to still exist. Weighing in at 30,000 pounds and sporting an 817-cube turbocharged inline six mated to an Allison automatic transmission, this one is definitely a crowd favorite. He looked for it for about 15 years, too, and the restoration process was extensive (it was a basketcase when he got it). All in all, it took two full nights to clean it up enough to see what they were working with for the restoration!

IH 4300
Here’s the 4300 after Jerry’s restoration – and one of my favorite details on it.
Picture courtesy of Girard Auctions. Click this photo to see more photos and information about how they’ll be handling Jerry’s auctions beginning later this fall!
IMG 3176
Here’s the punch line on the other fender. Kids, always eat your Wheaties, so you can grow from Cub Cadet-sized to big powerful yellow tractor-sized!

Worldwide Destination

The museum typically sees well over 5000 visitors per year, and Jerry figures that he’s had conversations with guests from every continent and every state in the union as well! One of the last times I visited, I actually had an international (no pun intended) encounter while drooling over a wide-fendered Wheatland 1256! I met a man who was here in the states from Australia. He really wasn’t involved with agriculture in his day job back home, but he’d heard about Farmall Land and wanted to stop. “Stuff like this, and the people who run this museum is what makes America so great!” he said. Indeed it does, my friend.

farmall land usa
A pair of 68-series Binders. Note the M&W twin turbo kit on the 1568. Those kits alone can fetch $5K+ if they’re in good shape!

The farm and garden tractors themselves are one thing, but that’s not all that makes up this amazing exhibit. Additionally, the memorabilia and examples of other products that International Harvester (fridges, freezers, etc.) built is mind-blowing! Altogether, I’m sure there are well over a thousand die-cast toys ranging from 1/64th up to 1/8th scale, plus a load of nice pedal tractors too! Basically, according to Jerry, “If it’s red, we’ve probably got it.”

So, like I’d mentioned earlier…if you want to see this collection in all of its glory, you need to make some plans within the next week or so. After September 27, the doors will close permanently.

Additionally, here are some details if you decide to make the trip!

Address: 2101 N. Lavista Heights Rd., Avoca, IA 51521

(Basically, it’s at the intersection of I-80 and Iowa 59 off of exit 40; an hour or so west of Des Moines, or about 45 minutes east of Omaha.)

Phone: 712.307.6806

Web: http://www.farmall-land-usa.com/

Hours: Closed on Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for 13-18, $3 for 5-12, and free under 5!

COVID-19 rules do apply as well, folks, so out of respect for Jerry & Joyce’s wishes you’ll want to have a mask with you, and wear it while in the museum.

All in all, there’s no community of people nicer than tractor people, and honestly, folks like Jerry & Joyce Mez and their small staff are the reason why. They absolutely love what they do, and love to share their passion for tractors with anybody who stops in to say hello. They’ve given very selflessly to the industry, farmers, and tractor collectors. In fact, I think I’m going to sneak away on Saturday the 26th and stop in one more time to say thank you. I hope I’ll see you there, too.

The Gallery!

Finally, here’s a gallery of photos from several of my visits, as well as a few shots from Girard Auctions! At the end of the day, though, neither my photos nor anybody else’s do Farmall Land proper justice. You really need to take it in for yourself.

Again, special thanks to my friend Lee Klancher and the team over at Octane Press for lending me the photo of that Jerry’s beautiful 1206. Lee wrote a great piece about one of his visits to Farmall Land. He’s got lots of photos that I didn’t get during my visits, too! Read that here.

Also, many thanks to my friend Ken Girard at Girard Auctions for lending me a few photos of tractors that I didn’t get in my visits! Click here to learn more about how Ken is planning to run the Farmall Land USA auctions!

Lastly, if you’re looking for red iron of your own…you should be looking here!

 

 

 

The Greatest Farm Show You’ve Never Heard Of: Blackmore Corner

john deere tractors
Two beautiful two-cylinder Deeres gracing the front lawn of the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show!

Nothing to see from an auction perspective. Not this time.

This post is all about a road trip to the best heritage farm show you’ve never heard of. It’s a little off the beaten path just south of Ellston, IA, and it’s awesome!

Now in its 10th year, the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show is the brainchild of the Dolecheck family. It started as a way to play with old iron that they (and their neighbors) had used over the years. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit, with a lot of iron being trailered in from the surrounding area! The day before the show, they host a 70-80 mile tractor ride and a big cookout, too, so it’s a full weekend!

The afternoon that I was there, they were threshing wheat with an old belt-driven thresher (running off of an old F-20, no less). In another area, there were six or eight plows hard at work turning the dirt! The plan was to pick corn the following day using a variety of pickers and some old combines, but intermittent rain hampered their plans.

The Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show ended the Saturday night festivities with an old-style tractor pull. Lots of kiddos sitting on hay bales, lawn chairs in the bed of old Chevys, that sort of thing. I love pulls like that!

The Dolechecks don’t do a lot of marketing for this show, but they do have a Facebook page with more information and some cool drone footage from years past! I would expect that this show grows quite a bit over the next few years, so if you’re able to come out, I’m sure they’d love to have you!

Here’s what I saw while I was there.

American flag waving near farm equipment at sunset
The American flag over amber waves of grain…
John Deere 830 Diesel
This 830 is weighted up to do some work. Don’t let that paint job fool you!
Two John Deere Tractors
There’s the 830 Diesel again, this time with its stablemate, a 730 Diesel. Both beautifully restored.
John Deere 720 Diesel
Here’s a better shot of the 730 Diesel.
A line of John Deere tractors
From left to right: 4255 hot farm pulling tractor, 7520, a 4620 (I think?), and a pair of 4320s. There’s an 1155 Massey that photobombed the picture, too.
Minneapolis Moline tractors
It wasn’t just red and green. Here’s a pair of all-original Minneapolis Moline G1000s (one is a Wheatland, the other is a row crop).
Ford 5000
That sunbrella on this Ford 5000 came in awfully handy. It was sunny and HOT!
Farmall 1206 at sunset
Iowa’s sunset game is STRONG. The Farmall 1206 is the icing on the cake!
Trio of Farmalls
A trio of Farmalls.
farmall tractors lined up in a row
All lined up in a row! Ronnie Shields has a terrific Farmall collection and he had most of it on display!
Farmall M with a hay rake.
Farmall M on a hay rake. Case threshing machine in the background.
blackmore corner tractor pulling track
Hay bales, a few coolers, Old Glory waving in the breeze, tractors, and a pulling track. No better recipe for a terrific Saturday night!
5 Millionth IH 1066 (replica)
A good lookin’ 5 Millionth clone!
1066 narrow front
This 1066 Narrow Front is still fully operational as a farm tractor. In fact, it’s been known to hook to the pulling sled while still wearing a corn picker!
John Deere 4440 pulling tractor
Another one from the Dolecheck stables, this 4440 has the narrow front from a 4040, and is also fully operational. It’ll also hook to the sled while wearing a picker!

Later in the evening, the plow demonstrations gave way to a tractor pull, and these next photos are from that portion of the day. Although some are still working tractors, those with roll cages definitely aren’t!

DSC05720

DSC05719

DSC05729

DSC05782

DSC05846

DSC05824

DSC05777

DSC05839

Timing. Is. Everything. I do love taking photos at sunset.

DSC05767

DSC05806

DSC05794

So there you have it, the gallery from the Blackmore Corner Antique Farm Show 2020!

If you’re looking for a classic of your own, you should browse tractors coming up at an auction near you! There’s lots of good stuff trading hands these days!