A man, a ‘dancing’ tractor and a world record attempt

Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club will be the scene of a world record attempt on Sunday when club member Ritchie Rae and his ‘dancing’ tractor attempt to set a new record for the longest tractor wheel stand.

The mere fact that nobody had done it before was enough motivation when Ritchie Rae decided to create a ‘dancing’ tractor.

That was two years ago, but truth be told the former commercial pilot and lifetime recreational dancer had long harboured plans to create a unique partner with which to trip the light fantastic.

“I had the idea 30 years ago but it never happened. It was originally going to be a truck but then I thought a tractor would be quicker and easier,” he said.

“I couldn’t believe it had never been done before and a couple of years ago I thought I just have to do it, so I did.

“They have tractors that dance in America but that is just people driving tractors around on all four wheels back and forth; it looks a bit pathetic and I thought we could do better than that.

“Of course nine out of 10 people said it wouldn’t work but I just said ‘okay’ and went and built it.”

The secret to Mr Rae’s dancing tractor is weights at the rear, with the roar power of the engine used to lift the front end off the ground.

This enables the tractor to ‘dance’ around on its rear wheels while custom-built speakers play some of Mr Rae’s favourite songs.

“I tell you what it took some getting used to and there was nobody to ask because it’s the only one in the world,” he said.

“At first I had no idea what it was going to do once I got it up in the air. I’ve always thought though since I was a child if it moves I can drive it or fly it.

“It’s all about balance, which is not entirely dissimilar to flying a helicopter.

“I’ve played musical instruments and I’m a keen dancer so I know how to move the tractor to keep in time with the music.”

Mr Rae, 71, named the tractor Tread Astair, or Treaddy for short, after famous dancer Fred Astair.

Since completing the tractor last year, he has been wowing crowds at regional shows.

On Sunday however, when Mr Rae and Treaddy take to the Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club track at Willowbank, dancing will take a back seat.

Instead the dynamic duo will be trying for a Guinness World Record for the longest tractor wheel stand. The current record sits at 8.5km, but Mr Rae is hoping to steer Treaddy to the 10km mark.

“When I said I would give it a go I didn’t know what the record was and then I found out I had to do 10km,” he said.

“It’s going to be challenging. It’s tough enough to drive for five minutes let alone 10km. It’s very hard to hang onto once you have the nose up in the air.”

Whatever happens on Sunday one thing is for sure, Mr Rae will be having plenty of fun.

Not one to take life too seriously, he said his “whole life had been one big laugh, just a bit of fun” and he enjoyed the reaction Treaddy drew from spectators.

“To see the look on people’s faces when they see the tractor going round and round and bobbing up and down in time with the music is a real pleasure,” he said.

“There was this one young bloke who was about two years old at the Laidley Show who just couldn’t take his eyes off it and he had the biggest smile on his face; it was fantastic.”

Ritchie Rae and Treaddy will attempt the wheel stand record on Sunday, 19 August at noon at the Ipswich West Moreton Auto Club track on Champions Way at Willowbank. Spectators are welcome.

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