"It might kill me, but I'm willing to pay that price."
Throw a challenge at Guy Martin and even the possibility of death isn't enough to stop him chasing history. The Grimsby-based mechanic and daredevil has made a living out of going where no man or machine has gone before, collecting five world speed records along the way, and accruing enough injuries to release his own limited edition Operation game.
His latest feat of achievement? Driving the world's fastest tractor. In the pantheon of crazy stunts that Martin has completed, going hell for leather in an agricultural vehicle might not appear all that extreme. However, if you've ever been forced to dawdle behind a tractor on a country road, you can probably imagine how difficult it is to make one speed down a runway at over 100 miles per hour.
Nevertheless, with the help of the engineering wizards at JCB - as well as contributions from Williams Racing, Rob Smedley and Ricardo - Martin was able to set a new world record of 135.192mph. That's right, over 200km/h in a converted Fastrac vehicle with enough tractor characteristics to pass Guinness World Records' frivolous specifications.
Speaking with GIVEMESPORT at the scenic Oxo Tower in London, Martin reflected on making history all over again and piloting a farmer's Fast and Furious fantasy. "The world's fastest tractor, it's one of the many daft things that I've done," Martin chuckled. "Over 100mph in a tractor is daft, isn't it? I never stop being amazed by what JCB can do when they put their minds to something.
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World's fastest tractor
"The passion, the knowledge and people in general blow my mind. When I heard 100mph, I thought: 'yeh, of course that's possible,' but I never thought 135mph would be possible. When I first started the project, I was s****ing myself! I was clinging on for grim death. I've done some daft things, but over 100mph in a tractor, I was s****ing myself. They wanted to do as many runs as possible to get me used to the tractor.
"They wanted to see what could go wrong and what would be the limiting factors. I did 50 runs and by the end of it, I was sat there like I was having a fag. Not that I smoke, but it became a piece of p***. The repetitiveness of it made it second nature, which these things need to be. It was just about getting the gear changes in the right place, that was the most important thing."
Most impressively of all, Martin actually managed to reach a peak speed of 153.771mph, even if the history books will dilute that figure with an emphasis on a 'flying kilometre' average. Nevertheless, it was more than enough to blow the Top Gear team's former record apart and earn a 'three or four out of 10' on Martin's barometer of danger and adrenaline. But let's dig deeper.
Martin's visit to Chernobyl
We could have spoken to Martin for hours and hours about his numerous escapades. After all, this is a man who drove a motorbike across water for 100 metres; skydived on to the D-Day beaches; built a First World War tank and set a Nurburgring lap record in a transit van. But do not fear, we still had time to quiz Martin on some of the highlights, including an eye-opening trip to Chernobyl.
While the infamous Ukrainian nuclear power plant has opened its doors to tourism in recent years, largely thanks to the eponymous HBO series, Martin was granted more access than most as part of Channel 4's 'Our Guy in Russia.' The reluctant TV personality was given a unique view of the steel and concrete sarcophagus that covers the radiation-bleeding reactor number four.
"I probably had about 10 year's worth of dosage in about five minutes," Martin said with jarring placidity. "Probably the majority of the area in and around Chernobyl, you'd probably get more background radiation in Lincolnshire. But we were in the golden corridor and that's where the control room for reactor four was. My meter was going berserk in there.
"That control room blew my mind. And it's just so peaceful there. I've got my own dogs, so I feel at ease when dogs are around and there were so many dogs there. People left Prypiat, which was the main town in Chernobyl, so quickly that they left all the dogs behind. They've managed to survive. It sounds mad, but it's such a peaceful place."
2015 Ulster GP crash
When Martin isn't strolling through nuclear wreckages, though, you can almost guarantee that he'll be within touching distance of a motorbike. The 38-year-old made his name as a motorcycle racer, competing in the world famous Isle of Man TT, and now has his sights on becoming the first man to drive a two-wheeled vehicle at over 300mph across a measured mile.
To put the precariousness nature of that task into perspective, the incumbent record holder is no longer with us - and motorcycle crashes have similarly threatened Martin's life. His most famous collision came at the 2015 Ulster Grand Prix where, after being thrown over his handlebars, he was knocked out cold and regained consciousness an hour later in hospital.
Did that pour water on his aspirations? No, it merely stoked the flames and Martin recounted his injuries with the casualness of someone reading their shopping list aloud. "I had rods in my back, I had screws in my hands, I broke my ribs and I punctured a lung. I made a right mess of myself. I'd survived that, so I knew it was the right time to walk away.
Driving a motorbike at over 300mph
"With this 300mph job that I'm trying to do now, the fastest man in the world is dead because it's a f***ing dangerous challenge. No one has ever done this and it's obviously f***ing dangerous. It might kill me, but I'm willing to pay that price for achieving this goal. I'm just trying to minimise the risks by taking a very pragmatic approach. If something goes wrong and it kills me, then I tried my best.
"Trying to do something that's never been done before is not a bad way to kill yourself. I don't want to get to 70 years old and have so many screws in me that I can't walk, I'm in a wheelchair and someone needs to wipe my a*** for me. I'd rather go out with a bang. You've got to know the risks. Achieving goals like this aren't easy and some times that's the price you've got to pay."
Scariest stunt of his life
So, driving a motorbike that fast has surely phased Martin more than anything else? You'd be wrong again, because the Lincolnshire resident actually attributes his hairiest moment to an engineless vehicle. During a 2015 project with Channel 4, he remarkably clocked 112mph on a push bike - yes, like the bicycles you'd find in your garage - while slipstreaming a race truck.
Although the experiment was intricately regulated and conducted across a beach, the former TT competitor was forced to pedal for dear life in the most literal of senses. Coming from a man with numerous back breaks and complete peace with mortality, you knows it's serious when a stunt warrants 10/10 on their scale.
"Nothing has ever scared me more than that," he readily admitted. "I'm alright with it now, I've been doing stupid things for some time and I'm still here. So, I'm doing something right. But when I was in that situation, it was like: 'F***ing hell, anything could happen. If something goes wrong, it could kill me.' You've got to deal with that sort of situation with a mechanical approach.
"I just go through the motions. On that beach, I was pedalling so f***ing hard that I thought I was going to rip the muscles off my legs. Mate, I was f***ing pedalling so hard. Obviously, what I was doing was f***ing stupid, but it was all controlled and I was absorbing all the information. That was definitely a number 10."
Love for the death-defying
And breathe. Martin can now put his feet up and enjoy accomplishing five speed records from 13 attempts, not that he'll intend to stave off the adrenaline for too long. We're certain that another project will tickle his fancy in the months to come and that a speedometer on any number of vehicles will duly spin past the needle-mark that came before. After all, it's what he does best.
Set a death-defying task for Martin and he'll probably race a motorbike under the grim reaper's scythe just to complete it. If the blade takes his head in the process, he frankly isn't bothered.News Now - Sport News