HASTINGS, MI — When the winter winds are blowing and there is really nothing anyone can do outside, one family in Hastings, MI, has found a very productive way to enjoy the colder season. Luke, along with his three oldest boys, restore Farmall tractors as a hobby and have been quite successful.
“The boys and I repainted a 1950 tractor that my grandfather bought new and that is what got this all started,” Luke said.
“Once we found out about the FFA competition where the boys could rebuild the tractors and learn about the restoration process, it took it to the next level where they could incorporate the tractors into their FFA projects.”
The Haywood family have established a reputation for doing an excellent job on their tractors, written workbooks, and interviews as each of the three have placed in the top twelve in the nation every time they have entered the Delo Tractor Restoration Competiton sponsored by the Chevron Products Company.
Ethan placed second in his first and only opportunity to compete while Austin placed second on his first try the next year. In 2016, Austin was on his second chance and made the top twelve in the nation along with his younger brother Devin who was making his debut into the competition as a freshman.
Each of the participants are required to complete a workbook that explains the entire restoration process they went through with their tractor. The contestants recorded the work that is put into the mechanics of the machine as well as the external restoring.
The contest is open to high school students whether they are involved in the FFA program or not. Twelve finalists are chosen from the entries to attend the National FFA Convention where the competition gets a little more difficult as the young people need to share their experiences and what they learned during the process to a panel of experienced professional tractor restorers.
“They really try to stump you with their questions because they want to know how much you learned and gained from the project,” Austin said. “It was an awesome experience to be able to go down and present for the judges and gain all the knowledge that the judges have to share with us.”
The finalists also did an oral presentation. Their projects were judged on the restoration process, hands-on learning, the results of their work, safety precautions, and the workbook.
“For the presentation, I used a lot of display boards and PowerPoints,” Austin said. His workbook, which included over 100 pages of documentation and pictures, was needed to tell the judges the real story behind his restoration project.
Obviously, Austin accomplished what he set out to do and it was well worth the effort as he was named the 2016 Delo Tractor Restoration Competition Champion. He received a check for $10,000 which will be applied to his college tuition. He is attending Michigan State University while he serves as the State FFA Secretary.
While Ethan and Austin may be done with their chances in the Delo contest, the next youngest Haywood Devin is just starting as he is currently a sophomore and working on his second tractor, and chance, at continuing the Haywood’s legacy in the competition.