Guy Martin is a happy man. The thrill-seeking motorcyclist, mechanic, TV presenter and adventure racer has just broken another world record. ‘Smashed it‘ in fact, to use his words.
It’s another feather in the wooly hat of this everyday hero who’s perfected the art achieving new speed records in novel vehicles or on terrifyingly unconventional tracks. Having retired from a motorcycle racing career, which included 14 Isle of Man TT races, Martin now makes a living breaking world records in crazy speed conquests, including the fastest snow sled (83mph), hurtling down Mount Ventoux in a soapbox (85mph) and the motorbike record for the highest speed on the wall of death (78mph).
Having ‘smashed‘ the Guinness World Record for the fastest speed achieved in a tractor he took time out to tell RSNG about his ultimate speed ambition, returning to the machine he loves the most and even adopting a new diet to help him do it...
RSNG ‘Guy, you’ve just broke the record for the world’s fastest speed in a tractor, is there any vehicle you won’t push to the limits?’ GUY MARTIN, ADVENTURE RACER ‘Ha! probably not! This one really was fun to do. I’d set the World Record for the fastest tractor when I reached 103.6mph at Elvington airstrip back in June 2019, but even then we came away thinking we could push it farther.’ ‘The great thing about this has been the engineering, working with young designers tasked with making a JCB Fastrac tractor lighter and quicker but keeping it as a real working tractor. We did that and I got it up to 153mph which was amazing.’
‘Tractors usually have a top speed of 44mph so I was worried when we hit 150mph that we might need a wheelbarrow to pick up all the parts, but it did it!’
RSNG Where does the desire to go so fast stem from? GM ‘It’s not the speed as such, although I do love going fast – to the point where I have got points on my driving license at the moment! [Not recommended, Ed] It’s more about the engineering challenge with all these feats, that’s what really captures my imagination.’
‘Getting the speed up to a record is the goal, but to get that goal it often means a massive engineering challenge.’
When you sit up and relax coming down from 270mph, say, that’s when you think: Yeah, I’m really moving!
RSNG What does it feel like to hit those kinds of speeds? GM ‘Whether it’s on a track or a road, hit anything over 150 miles per hour and it fairly much feels the same. There’s no warp speed feeling as such, my brain pretty much gets used to it so it’s not a new thrill or feeling each time.’
‘The only time I really feel it when I start slowing down, when you sit up and relax when you’re come down from 270mph, say, and that’s when you think “yeah, I’m really moving”. It’s always a great honor to be given the opportunity to drive something really fast, like the world’s fastest tractor, but for me it’s really all about the engineering.’
RSNG Do you ever get scared? GM ‘Funnily enough the one record attempt that scared me the most was the “bike on the beach” where I got to 112.94 miles per hour – nothing has ever scared me more than that.’
[Guy broke the British speed cycling record on a custom built Rourke bike pedaling along a sandy beach while drafting a high powered racing truck]. ‘That’s because there was so much that could have gone wrong, there was so much that was sort of out of my control.’
‘I know I’ve done some stupid things over the years but most of the outside parameters have sort of been in my control. I always look at all the facts, I always opt for a very mechanical approach to minimize the risk.’
RSNG Even when you were TT racing on the Isle of Man, on some of the world’s deadliest roads, were you not scared? GM ‘No, but things do go wrong. I only came off there once and I got away with it and that was through an engine problem that was outside of my control – but sometimes shit does happen.’
‘I’ve been doing these daft things for a long time now and I’m still here so I must be doing something right. Though it will catch me out, and right now I’m doing the most dangerous things I’ve ever done.’
Two weeks before I broke the tractor record I rode my motorbike at 272mph – I’m looking to get a bike to go at 300mph
RSNG Really, the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done, what is that? GM ‘Yep, two weeks before I broke the tractor record I rode my motorbike at 272mph on the same airfield. I’m looking to get a bike to go at 300mph. I’m willing to accept the risk for that goal and right now any spare time and money I have is used to make that happen, and I won’t stop until I’ve done it.’
‘The thrill comes from a fascination in how hitting that speed can be achieved, the mechanics of making it happen. That has been in me since I first started tinkering with machinery when I was fixing old grannies’ lawnmowers – now I’m trying to get a motorbike to do 300mph.’
RSNG And is it true that you, a Lincolnshire farmland-based action man and co-owner of the Marrowbone and Cleaver pub is even engineering his own diet and going vegan to help achieve that? GM ‘That’s right. It all stems from when I cycled the great Tour Divide from Banff in Canada to Mexico, on a mountain bike. Then I read that the bloke who broke the running record on the Appalachian Trail (Scott Jurek) did that on a vegan diet and suddenly I thought ‘Hey, there must be something in that’ and so I gave it a go.’
‘Sharon [Guy’s partner] is a vegetarian anyway, which helps. I just love the science behind it. I’m not doing it for any moral reason, I'm just fascinated to see how my body deals with it and if I can see gains then that’s what I want. As you know, I’m pretty much game to try anything once!’
WHAT NEXT? See how Guy Martin fared for yourself as he attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest tractor in a JCB Fastrac...