Then and now: Riley Hanson, 2013 Delo® TRC Grand Champion
In 2010, Riley Hanson had never heard of the Delo Tractor Restoration Competition. At the time, he was a freshman at Melrose-Mindoro High School in Wisconsin and working on a tractor (1949 WD Allis Chalmers) that he paid for by mowing a neighbor’s yard.
About 18 months later, having finished his first tractor, he learned about the Delo TRC at the Wisconsin FFA convention.
So, in 2012 he entered his first tractor restoration in the Delo TRC competition. While he did not take home the big title, he did place as a finalist, which gave him the experience and motivation to try again in 2013. “After experiencing what it was like to be in the Delo TRC, I knew I wanted to compete again. Since I’m pretty competitive, I wanted to try and beat those Texas teams,” said Riley.
Hanson restored a 1953 Super H Farmall and entered into the Delo TRC, won $10,000 and earned the Grand Champion title.
These days, Riley can be found working as a heavy equipment mechanic for Mathy Construction. After high school graduation he attended Western Technical College, a two-year vocational, technical school where he studied diesel engines and drive train components learning on semis and heavy equipment.
“I would never have thought that restoring a tractor could have changed my life in the ways that it has. I learned about researching, pricing, budgeting, developed writing skills for the documentation, along with technical expertise to put together the video. With the video vote contest I also learned some marketing skills to get votes for my projects’ video.
“I learned safety was a big concern with Chevron and that safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands. I also learned you don’t have to be from Texas to win!
“As 2013 Grand Champion, I traveled with Chevron to showcase my tractor to a world-wide audience in California at the World Ag Expo, to the Farm Progress Show, and the National FFA Convention. I was featured in magazines like the Wisconsin Agriculturist, the Wisconsin Farmers’ Fastline.com, Vintage Tractor Digest, The Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times and was on RFD-TV a few times. I was interviewed five times on radio during my local farm show that year and received several job offers. I also got all kinds of cards and notes — even one from the Governor of Wisconsin!
“Through all of this, I realized that an ‘average Joe’ like myself could make their mark in the world if you just put in the effort.”
These days, in addition to working full-time for Mathy, Riley is also renovating his first home he recently purchased while continuing doing what he loves, restoring tractors!