Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tractor gearheads will show their best and brightest at The Best Show on Tracks

Move Over American Chopper!

June 20-22 at Dan Best Ranch in Woodland, California

WOODLAND, Calif. – Sure, those guys on American Chopper are passionate about the motorcycles they make. But they have nothing on some of the folks who get their kicks restoring antique tractors. Take Norman L. Barker, for example. He lives for the work he does tinkering around with rusted-out old farm machinery – literally. The retired engineering professor from Grants Pass, Oregon, has survived both quadruple bypass surgery and a stroke in the past seven years, and working on his vintage 1931 Caterpillar 30 tractor was the key to his recovery.

“When I got sick, I was depressed.” Barker said. “I had this project out there and I thought I would die and it would never be finished. Thinking about rebuilding the Cat 30, my enthusiasm came back for living. Pretty soon, I was just chomping at the bit to get back to work, get back to doing that heavy lifting.”

After nine years of meticulous work – including manufacturing more than 100 replacement parts himself – Barker has finally transformed his tractor from a rusted heap of almost 1000 parts to a shiny-as-new dream machine that he calls, “the most extensive and complete rebuilt, restored Caterpillar that you will ever cast your eyes upon.”

His pride and joy will be making its public debut at The Best Show on Tracks, a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of tractor enthusiasts and their vintage machines presented by the Heidrick Ag History Center June 20-22 at the Dan Best Ranch near Woodland, California. More than 400 antique tractors, harvesters, threshers and other machines from the Golden Age of the American family farm will be on display – with many strutting their stuff in the fields just as they did back on farmsteads more than 70 years ago. It’s going to be the biggest display of machinery from that bygone era and a dream come true for die-hard “tractorphiles” – who seriously rival motorcycle gearheads in their dedication, skill and knowledge of their “rides.”

The festival will also serve as the annual convention for the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC) and thousands of members are expected to attend from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Some of the other tractor passionistas who will be on hand include:

Festival co-creator Tom Madden, a Paso Robles, Calif., lawyer/gentleman farmer who is a walking encyclopedia of Caterpillar tractor knowledge and one of the top collectors around. He’ll have several tractors on display, including a Caterpillar 15 that was owned and used by actor Clark Gable and the very first Best 60 crawler-type tractor – a machine that is known as “The Gold Standard in Collectible Caterpillars.”

British-born engineer Allan Harris, a globe-trotting tractorphile whose collection of machines is housed at storage sites on three continents. He’ll be shipping two tractors all the way from Australia.

Event host Dan Best Jr., whose grandfather, C.L. Best, was co-founder of Caterpillar and a pioneer in crawler-style tractors.

For additional information on the June 20-22 event, please visit: or

About the Show

When: June 20, 21, 22
Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Where: Dan Best Ranch
Yolo County Rd 14 x 101
Woodland, CA 95776

Why?: Because We Can! (click the title of this story to access the Web site)

What Will You See? All this and more...

• 27 mules pulling a 1905 Holt Harvester
• Harvesting and threshing grain demonstrations
• Over 100 Best and Holt Crawlers
• 200 large items already coming, most restored to running order
• Many unique machines
• Best 110 Steamer pulling the only operational Best Harvester in the world
• Activities for the whole family
• Largest gathering of Best, Holt and Caterpillar equipment

Click here to access the online registration form and ticket information.

Pre-Purchase Day Passes - $10 each daily, $25 for the whole event

RV Parking - $75 for up to a week (No Dump Stations or Utility Hookups, Not Transferable)

Prime Rib Dinner at the Heidrick Ag History Center, raffle and auctions - $50 per person
• Saturday June 21
• 7 PM Reception/Silent Auction
• 8 PM Dinner
• 9 PM Raffle /Live Auction
• Seating limited

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