For most people, a tractor is nothing more than a tool. They are slow, lumbering albatrosses that spend their days mowing down fields of corn or keeping you from getting to work on time. They look ridiculous, with their massive, monster-truck rear tires and front tires the size of a New York style pizza crust. They’re as impractical as they are ridiculous, and most certainly not supposed to be used for transportation. Right?
Apparently, no one told Manon Ossevoort this -and she’s better for it. Manon dreams big, much in the way that children dream of being astronauts. Or ninjas. Not only has she turned her dream into a reality, but secured an entry into the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records in the process.
According to the Guinness Record Certificate, Manon and the Antartica2 team:
“left Novo Runway in Antarctica on 22 November 2014 driving a Massey Ferguson 5610 farm tractor to complete a 4,638 km round trip to the South Pole that lasted 27 days, 19 hr 25 min.”
The Antartica2 team is the first ever to reach the South Pole in a wheeled tractor. Historians may recall that Sir Edmund Hillary once completed a similar trek on January 4th, 1958. Hillary however, used a set of tracks that wrapped around the existing tires creating a tank-track like traction aid. This subtle difference is what left the door open for Osservoort and her team to secure a separate record. Interestingly enough, Hillary also used a Ferguson tractor.
Antartica2 was 12 years in the making. Undoubtedly, much of this time was spent trying to secure the funds to embark on such a journey. Massey Ferguson, AGCO Finance and a plethora of other big ticket sponsors jumped on board to back her adventure. No matter how much one desires to do it on their own, it always helps to have the security of major sponsorship. Arguably the most import of her sponsors, Massey Ferguson, provided the driving force behind the trek, an MF 5610 tractor.
The big red tractor faced some of the harshest conditions on the planet. From meter high sastrugi (ice waves) to massive crevasse fields and hill climbs, each meter promised new challenges. Despite -56 C° windchills, the tractor just kept chugging along, nipping away at the route inch by painful inch -for as many as 23 hours at a time without stopping. The only failure during the entire journey was a broken fan belt (without the ability to shut the engine off, I would be interested to see how they pulled this repair off). This is an impressive feat by any measure. Upon reaching the South Pole, the crew radioed in their achievement via satellite to the their millions of followers: “This is South 90 – as far South as anybody can go. It’s unbelievable – at the South Pole there is a red Massey Ferguson tractor! We are all ecstatic to be here and so proud to be taking our hero shots with the tractor that never gave us any cause to doubt that it would be up for the challenge.”
With these words, Manon and her crew earned their place in history. If for some reason you find yourself compelled to get in on the action, so to speak, Massey Ferguson now offers an Antartica2 Special Edition tractor.
17 days, 2350 km
650 gallons of fuel
Avg temp -27 F°
584 hours of engine run time
Tractor model: Massey Ferguson MF 5610
*Antartica2 completed the entire round trip. These stats are for the trip to the South Pole and do not include the return trip.