The Delo Tractor Restoration Competition Changes Lives… and Tractors

by on August 10, 2015 1 Comment

The Delo Tractor Restoration Competition Changes Lives“I can say with 110% certainty that if it were not for the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition (TRC) and those old rusty tractors, I would not be doing what I do now,” said Tabetha (Salsbury) Hammer, winner of the 2003 and 2004 Delo TRC. “My involvement with TRC gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons and participate in things I wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Hammer’s story begins in Pueblo, Colorado, where she grew up riding and fixing tractors. At the age of six, she was turning wrenches with her father and grandfather.

In 2003, Hammer, a high school sophomore, put that experience to the test by entering the then ChevronTexaco Tractor Restoration Competition, an annual event in which both her brother and sister had participated. In October 2003, Hammer was named Grand Champion winner for her restoration of a 1935 John Deere B tractor.

“I put in more than 300 hours and gave up a big part of my summer,” Hammer recalls, “but it was about much more than restoring that tractor. TRC required that I detail the entire restoration process, from overhauls of the engine, transmission, auxiliary and ancillary systems to restoring the tractor’s external appearance. I was graded on the restoration process, results and documentation, as well as an oral presentation.” No small feat for a professional let alone a 15 year old.

With her winning tractor came many rewards: the cash prize of course, but priceless was her chance meeting of racing legend Mario Andretti, and receiving a special commendation at the Colorado State Capitol for setting a positive example, as well as a whirlwind of publicity on TV, in newspapers, agricultural publications, and during multiple event appearances.

“Those were very exciting times. But most important is how TRC changed my life,” Hammer said. “The competition was the first step on my path to a college education and a career. It helped me develop teamwork, project and budget management, planning, public speaking, marketing and other business skills.”

After the Tractor Restoration Competition, Hammer was contacted by McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, where she went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Restoration. Hammer credits the public relations efforts that took place after the TRC win that led to her to focus on communications in her career.

Today, Hammer is applying many of the skills she learned competing in the TRC as the Advocacy Communications Manager at Hagerty – the world’s largest provider of insurance for collector vehicles – where she manages the company’s national youth initiatives and relationships with the Historic Vehicle Association and the Hagerty Education Program at America’s Car Museum, which are all designed to help fuel the future of the collector vehicle community.

“My career allows me to pass along the patience, dedication and passion that I learned competing in TRC,” Hammer says. “TRC is about much more than giving young people an opportunity to showcase their skills and win a contest. The TRC is about personal growth and development, learning how to create a balance between everything you are doing and getting the project done. That was great training and it has taken me to where I am today.”

For more information on the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition, visit

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  1.' Jim Davis says:

    Very proud of you. I wish I had that knowledge and self drive at age 15! I’m 72 and still can’t do it. I bought my tractor already restored! It’s a 1958 Massey Ferguson 35 Deluxe with gas engine!!


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