At Iowa's biggest car show and cruise this year, visitors could see what may be the fastest tractor in the state.
Gene Brass, of Buffalo Center, entered a hot rod built entirely to look like a John Deere tractor.
"I used to work for Ford, and I just like to make things," Brass said. "I started out with a frame, and just took it from there."
Gene Brass, of Buffalo Center, designed this “tractor” pretty much from scratch. Many of the pieces do in fact come from a John Deere tractor. The weights in the front are made of wood. Despite all the peculiar stylings, Brass made sure to keep the car street legal.
Dave Smith, of Manson, examines the small-block Chevy V8 on his “Ratillac”.
Classic cars of all kinds cruise through the woods at Dolliver Park late Sunday morning.
Brass said he just used his imagination to create something that would make people smile.
"The hood's off a 6400 John Deere, and there's a 4230 air cleaner. The weights in the front are wood," he said.
The cab is from a real John Deere, too. The engine is painted green, the seats are from a lawn mower, and a small planter on the back is made from pieces of Brass's real planter.
2012 Top 10 favorite cars:
Taylor Wilpse, Blue Earth Minn., 1937 Ford pickup rat rod
Jim Boston, Stillwater, Okla., 1972 Plymouth Cuda
Steve Man, Mankato, Minn., 1966 Chevy Impala station wagon
Gary Weakland, Boone, 1942 Dodge Carryall
Phil Gufk, Ankeny, 1947 GMC pickup
Kevin Thompson, Toledo, 2004 Corvette
Mike Lugas, Cedar Falls, 1970 AMC Rebel Machine
George Pfalzgraf, Cedar Falls, 1962 Jaguar
Kirk Spamper, Nevada, Iowa, 1969 Ford Fairlane wagon
Dave Miller, Marshelltown, 1936 Ford two-door.
The Good Guys pick: Bob Trostle, Des Moines, 1950 Oldsmobile sedan
Eagle Grove Eagles Car Club: Tom Maulsby, Clear Lake, 1953 Nash Rambler station wagon
Norm and Linda Ihle memorial pick: Bob Friesner, Fort Dodge, 1957 Chevy Bel Air
Six area body shops decorated pedal cars; they are voted on by all registered participants in the show. This year's winner was Midwest Muscle Cars, of Clarion. Other body shops were Troy Waller Auto Body, Todd's Body Shop, G-Force Custom, Curt Bacon Body Shop and Metal Workz Body Shop.
Brass said he came straight to the car show at the Webster County Fairgrounds, and didn't take part in the cruise from Stratford to the fairgrounds this year.
"I usually drive it down, but this year it was just too cold this morning," he said. "We drive it all over. We drive it as much as possible."
Plenty of cars did make the cruise, said David Palmer. A professional motorsports announcer, Palmer has been announcing the annual Cruise to the Woods for about 20 years.
"They claimed to have 800 cars lined up in Stratford, and there were probably around 800 already here," he said. Palmer stood at the gate as the cars rolled in, giving a description of each one.
The cars left Stratford around 11:15 a.m., Palmer said, and wound through Dolliver Memorial State Park and Coalville. After 1 p.m., cars were still rolling in.
His estimate may have been high, though- Rachel Austin of the WC Cruisers reported that 1,345 cars total registered for the event.
While some car owners converged on Stratford for the giant convoy, others went straight to Dolliver to watch them go by.
Wayne and Linda Brill parked their 1959 Chrysler just north of the bridge in Dolliver Park and set up chairs and a grill with some friends. The Brills try to attend the cruise every year.
Linda Brill shivered under a blanket, but that's normal for the cruise, she said.
"Sometimes we sit here in winter coats, and other times we're in shorts and sandals," she said.
"I started counting the cars as they went by one year, and I got up to about 700 before I lost count."
Others arrived at the fairgrounds early.
"That way we can watch them all go by," said Jim Van Scoy, of Rockwell City.
Van Scoy brought a hot rod based on a 1923 Fort Model T.
Everything from modern stock sports cars to vintage 1930's cars to rat rods were on display throughout the fairgrounds.
Jeb Ball, of Jefferson, polished the finish on his bright orange 2010 Dodge Challenger.
"It's all stock except it's got a Flowmaster exhaust," he said. "This is my favorite. I had an '81 'vette, and I had a chance to sell it. When I got to the auction I saw this one sitting there and I said, I'm going to own that car today."
Barry Abel, of Omaha, drove his 2000 Corvette in the cruise. It's his first time attending the show.
"It's exhilaratingto be a part of all that. You usually don't see that many cars together in one place. The numbers are overwhelming," Abel said. "The thing about these cars is, there's such a variety. Everyone has their own personality that they put into the car."
Dave Smith, of Manson, put plenty of personality into his 2012 VW "Ratillac".
The body is from a 1973 Volkswagon Bug, he said, but the engine is in front and is a small-block Chevy V8.
He made the hood himself.
"It's all homemade," Smith said. "The grill started as a '38 Ford truck. It looked like a big egg. I cut it off, hammered everything around, and made it fit. It is a little bit of everything - Volare front end, Trans Am rear end, 350 chevy with 350 turbo."
Why build such a thing? Just because.
"This is something that nobody else has," he said. "This is something that nobody else wants."