The Row Less Traveled: Cody Garrett’s Journey to Winning the Tractor Restoration Contest

by on May 22, 2015 0 Comments

Cody Garrett, 2014 Champion

Every year, for the past 20 years, dozens of determined high school tractor enthusiasts set out on a journey that would make most adults turn back. Yet, it’s not just the shot at the $10,000 grand prize that keeps these kids going.

2014 Delo Tractor Restoration Competition (TRC) Champion Cody Garrett, from Cuero, Texas, is no different.

Don’t get him wrong, winning $10,000 was awesome. But, Cody will be the first to point out, what he learned along the way was so much more than the cash for college. “It’s an experience every kid who has an interest in restoring tractors should do at least once.”

Maybe even twice.

That’s exactly what it took for the determined, hard-working and extremely polite Texan to capture the 2014 Delo TRC national championship.

After making it all the way to the 2013 finals, but then missing out on the grand prize, Cody was more determined than ever to win it all in 2014.

Over the next 15 months, Cody’s parents, Karen and Jack, looked on as their son logged 929.75 hours restoring his next Delo TRC entry.

Cody was intent on applying his learning from the last round to meet his goal. While he always took shop safety seriously, as a finalist in the 2013 TRC, the judges reviewed the workbook and video entry with him, pointed out areas for improvement, and underscored the critical importance of safety and reporting.

Their advice followed Garrett back to his family’s cattle ranch, where he buckled down and focused on the finer details of safety and bookkeeping. Cody was committed to wearing personal protective gear at all times while working, ensuring everyone who visited his workshop followed suit and making sure all equipment was correctly blocked or cribbed.

One frequent visitor was a neighboring rancher who sponsored Cody’s past tractor restoration projects, and even supplied tractors straight from his fields.

Impressed by Cody’s abilities and work ethic, the cattleman agreed to sponsor Cody’s 2014 Delo TRC tractor restoration project. All Cody needed to do was find the lucky tractor.

Garrett’s search took him to North Dakota, where he came across a dilapidated 1962 Schafer Model 18000, which turned out to be a really special piece of equipment. It was one of only 25 such tractors built by Schafer Plow Company—a tractor worthy of the effort ahead.

“It was pretty beat up; I knew I had a bunch of hours ahead of me,” says Cody, who spent as much time chasing down replacement gaskets and seals as he did reaching for a wrench.

Cody’s newly refined skills—time management, record-keeping and communication, among others—followed him to Texas A&M University, where he is now a freshman studying agriculture systems management.

“I would like to be a mechanic or mechanic supervisor, maybe even open my own ag repair shop,” Cody says. “And, yes, someday it would be a pleasure to be a Delo TRC judge if that offer was ever extended.”

The Tractor Restoration Competition is now celebrating its 20th year. Visit the 2015 Tractor Restoration Competition website for more information on this year’s competition.

Share your own TRC stories in the comments!

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