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Playin’ hooky: Red Power Roundup (RPRU)


Ryan Roossinck

July 03, 2024

Interesting Iron 070324 RPRU 2024

So a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed our video intern Karson, and we took a road trip to Red Power Roundup (RPRU for short) in Spencer, IA. I’ve always wanted to go to one, but the schedules never worked out until this year. Furthermore, I’d promised Karson that we’d get out of the office more this summer than we did last summer (this is his second summer working for us). So, off we went.

The goal was to get a few people to tell some tractor stories on camera, as well as enough general footage for a cool teaser video. I figured I could sweet-talk a few people into jumping on camera with me. However, I didn’t really have anybody in mind because I wasn’t totally sure who was going to be there!

As it turned out, though, there was plenty to see and lots of people to meet!

Here’s that teaser video…

But wait…there’s lots more – and we’ll get there in a minute. First, let’s talk about what Red Power Roundup actually is, and why it’s important!

Red Power Roundup: Celebrating all things IH!

RPRU 2024 exhibit
If you bleed IH 2150 Red, RPRU is definitely where you’ll find your people. (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

Now in its 35th year, Red Power Roundup is the annual show of the IH Collectors Club (IHCC). The IHCC is an organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating all things International Harvester. They’ve got over 7000 members and 46 chapters, including ones in Canada, Great Britain, and even Sweden!

Every year, a chapter is chosen to host RPRU – and this year was Iowa’s turn.

RPRU 2024 - Farmall 1456
You’ll find all manner of red tractors at RPRU – and exhibitors come from all over the country to put their tractors on display! This beautiful Farmall 1456 hailed from Minnesota. (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

I’ve been involved with promoting and hosting some pretty big events, and I know that it’s a ton of work. It takes dedication, organization, thick skin, and an army of volunteers to make stuff like this happen. The town of Spencer was a perfect place to hold RPRU, too. The Clay County Fairgrounds is a very nice facility, and the town has almost all the amenities that you’d ever want or need for a show like this, too. In my opinion, the Iowa chapter did an utterly phenomenal job in putting it together, and an even better job in handling Mother Nature’s curveballs, too. When torrential rains hit Spencer during the show and the Little Sioux swelled out of her banks, they shifted into crisis mode and did what they had to do.

RPRU 2024 exhibit
It was pouring down rain when I took this photo, but inside it was nice and dry – and the red iron was shining bright! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

RPRU: Eye candy for miles…

There was pretty paint everywhere you looked. There were literally hundreds of nicely restored and/or customized red tractors on the grounds.

1466 TriStripe at RPRU 2024
Rick Van Zante’s tri-stripe 1466 blends some neat elements of both the 66 and 86 series. It’s a work of art, and if I had to guess, it’ll bark if the wagon’s loaded… (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

Customs & Re-Powers

There were lots of neat tractors on display, but Don Scholting’s highly-customized 1950 Farmall M really caught my attention. It’s powered by a very rare 702 cubic inch GMC V-12 that was originally produced in the 60s for Cold War-era missile carriers! I’m told that he fired it up a few times during the show, but sadly, I missed my chance to hear it run.

Don Scholting's GMC V-12-powered Farmall M
There are re-powered tractors, and then there’s Don Scholting’s Farmall M. Someday, I’d really like to hear this monster fire up! When I do, there’ll definitely be an Interesting Iron about it! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

While we’re talking different paint jobs, the Weber family had their pair of pulling tractors on display as well. They’re painted to match the white 5 Millionth tractor (a 1066) that rolled off the assembly line on February 1, 1974.

Weber NTPA Super Farm
The Weber family pulls this 1066 Super Farm with the United Pullers of MN and the NTPA. The other roll cage visible behind the Super Farm is their Pro Farm. Sharp tractors! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

Historic tractors

There were some pretty historic tractors on display, too. Ryan Peters loaded the 100,000th Farmall up and brought it up for the show, which was really neat. Until two weeks ago, I’d only seen photos of this tractor!

Farmall 100K
Ryan Peters’ silver Farmall Regular is the 100,000th Farmall tractor ever built! Cyrus McCormick drove it off the assembly line on April 12, 1930! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

It wasn’t all pretty paint, though. This little 460 in its work clothes just happens to be the very first one ever built!

Farmall 460 Serial #501
It’s not all pretty paint at RPRU. The Lundell family had the very first 460 on display! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

The Interviews…

As it turned out, it wasn’t nearly as hard to get people on camera as I thought it would be. We ended up recording four different interviews and uncovered a few very neat stories! Rather than describe them, though…hit the play button below and see for yourself!

(Spoiler alert – For you Farmall Land fans and old friends of Jerry’s, there’s a special one in this video about a 1456 with a bit of a secret under the hood…)

Honestly, we could’ve stayed there late into the day and captured more stories on camera, but we had to get back home. It’ll give us a good excuse to go to RPRU in 2025 or 2026 to catch a few more!

Why shows like RPRU are important…

770 Sprayer on display at RPRU
Big tractor shows like RPRU are important to our agricultural heritage. Where else are you going to see a fully-restored IH 770 sprayer? (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

At the end of the day, shows like Red Power Roundup are a lot more than just a bunch of old tractors. Tractor shows are important to our agricultural heritage. This is where we celebrate and remember the history of the American farmer. It’s more than old farmers carrying on with old stories; this is where memories and friendships are made, and where passion for agriculture is shared – and hopefully passed down to another generation. I lost count of how many multi-generation families I saw at RPRU. It was really cool to see so many kiddos tugging their parents and grandparents around the hundreds of tractors on display!

As far as the history goes, let me put it in perspective. Lee Klancher (author of the award-winning Red Tractors and Farmall Century books, among others) teamed up with Max Armstrong to give a guest lecture about what it was like during the last days of International Harvester. Karson and I were planning to go to it, but the room was so full that we couldn’t even get in – and we got there early! (I’m fairly sure that Steiner has recorded these lectures, and hopefully they’ll be available to watch soon!)

A lot of the history of the companies that pioneered the mechanization of farm equipment was never captured. Nobody had a camera in their pocket like we do now, so the only way anybody could capture it was by writing it down – and that didn’t happen very often. Today, however, we have the technology to document it. Furthermore, we’re living in a very unique era where the people who played important roles in building the groundbreaking equipment in the 70s and 80s are still alive and still remember it clearly enough to talk about it!

Wrapping up…

Karson and I really enjoyed our time at RPRU this year, and I hope we can get to Sedalia, MO next year for the 36th annual show! Between the people, the tractors, the vendors, history, and the atmosphere at the show, it made for a terrific day!

One more thing…

I took this photo at the show this year, and since putting it up on Tractor Zoom’s social media, it’s gone somewhat viral – which is exactly what I want. It’s been shared thousands of times; heck, even Machinery Pete borrowed the photo and posted it on his timeline. Don’t pay attention to the year; that’s a typo. Farmall ended Super M production in 1954 if I remember right.

However, if you’ve got a Super M with serial number 12885, please reach out to Scott. He’s desperate to get that tractor back home to the family farm.

Lost Family Tractor Super M
Scott, a man I’ve never met, desperately wants to get his dad’s Super M back to the family farm. If you have #12885, please reach out! (Photo: Ryan Roossinck)

Anyway, that about wraps it up for this week’s Interesting Iron! Make it a great week, and spend some time with the ones you love over the holiday weekend! Happy 4th!

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