September 4, 2015
Drake Davis, a senior at Southmont High School, is preparing to compete for the third time in the 2015 Chevron Delo Tractor Restoration Contest.
Davis just finished restoring an old, rusty, 1935 Farmall F12. Steve Campbell, the previous owner of the tractor, wanted to do the restoration himself but didn’t have time. So when he heard about Davis’ previous restoration projects, Campbell contacted Southmont.
“I pretty much don’t even go out and find the tractors,” Davis said. “The tractors find me. I think it’s amazing how it works because everyone
just calls me.”
Before people came to him with projects, Davis’ first restoration was his family’s 1949 Farmall Cub.
“We used it every day,” he said. “We used it on the farm. We’d spread manure with it. My dad used to pull me and my sister on a sled with it, and I used to mow the yard all the time with my dad on it. Then it backfired and just quit working. It sat for seven years, and then I just kept on begging my dad and mom to let me restore it.”
Davis and fellow students Joel Record and Cory Hutchinson worked on the tractor then submitted it in the 2013 Chevron Delo Tractor Restoration Contest.
Davis was named a top 12 national finalist in the contest both that year and the following year in 2014. His second tractor was his uncle’s 1962 Farmall 504.
“This takes a lot of time and dedication to complete such a project,” Daniel Davis, Drake’s father said. “The tractor has to be torn down to the last bolt and put back together.”
Davis’ last restoration, the F12, took approximately 150 hours to complete. Other restorations might take longer, but the F12 is a smaller tractor. However, the time commitment is always large.
“I come home and start working on my tractor around 5:30 p.m.,” Davis said. “I go in for dinner, and then I go back out and stay out until about 9:30 p.m.”
Davis calls this hobby an “addiction.” It can be frustrating at times, but it can also be stress-relieving and a lot of fun.
“I think it’s extremely fun just restoring a piece of American history,” he said. “If you think about it, these tractors are pretty much rusting away into the ground; they’re just disappearing. Getting the old tractors back up and running again and bringing them back to life is an amazing thing. Some day, these tractors may be in a museum, and they could be presented all over the world.”
Before this recent restoration makes history, Davis hopes it — like his previous two tractors — makes it into the top 12 of the Chevron Delo contest. The top 12 finalists will be announced Sept. 14.
The Chevron Delo Tractor Restoration Contest is open to high school students. If selected as a finalist, the student is invited to present the project at the National FFA Convention in October. It is then followed by an awards banquet where the top three students are recognized.
“It is an honor and resume material just to be a finalist,” Daniel Davis said.
However, the judges never see his tractor in person. The contest entries are judged from an 80-page workbook, complete with pictures and reports, and a three to five minute video that shows the tractor in working condition.
The video Davis created of his F12 is also part of a video contest within the larger Chevron Delo contest. The video can be found on YouTube along with all of the other entries by searching 2015 Chevron Delo TRC. Davis is asking everyone to visit www.delotrcvoting.com/registration on Monday and vote three times a day for his video. Video voting will still continue for all of the tractors until Oct. 23.
While he waits for results for this year’s contest, Davis is already working on next year’s entry. He is currently working on a 1978 International 1086 for the 2016 contest. As long as the restoration begins during a student’s senior year, the student is still eligible to enter the following year’s contest.
Davis hopes that he will be able to finish it by next year’s August deadline.
“This one’s going to take a lot more time,” he said. “It’s bigger, diesel and has a cab. It’s going to be a bear.”
Davis is a member of the Southmont FFA Chapter. He competes in various other contests throughout the year. He does soils judging, crop judging, parliamentary procedure, floriculture, interview contest, district contest, works in the newsroom at the state convention and helps with many community service projects. He just earned his FFA State Degree this past summer.
Davis also will be featured in the September/October “Vintage Tractor Digest” magazine. There is four-page article, with pictures, showing his restorations.