Articles

Going Down in History

‘Lil Tug Tractor from Leno Garage Searches & Finds
Historical Posterity on Road to Barrett-Jackson Auction

Lil Tug

Proceeds to benefit The Fisher House Foundation. Will be sold approximately 7:30PM Sat., January 21, 2012

Each morning when one of Jay Leno’s garage crew climbs aboard the ‘Lil Tug tractor bringing it to life with the turn of a key and surge of electricity, the little blue tractor quickly not only remembers where it is and the reason it is in the garage, but it also recalls every second of its life since the day in 2007 when it rolled off the New Holland assembly line in Dublin, Ga. The little blue tractor didn’t have a personal name then.

It was one of many similar tractors loaded on trucks and shipped off to places unknown – large or small farms, orchards, ranches, and even cities of all sizes to perform the tasks they were assigned.  This particular little blue tractor was quite satisfied with a future doing small chores as it watched the bigger and higher horsepower tractors do all the muscle work.

Little did it know that when its engine was started for the very first time at the factory, it would be loaded on a truck and carried across the country. Destined for an important job in the famous Jay Leno Garage, a place called home by many unique cars with names the tractor didn’t even recognize. The little blue tractor somehow knew there was an unusual, but special job waiting for it, but at that time it didn’t know how really special it was going to be, or where it would eventually lead during the next four years.  It was just a little blue tractor without a name.

However, the other vehicles in the garage quickly became friends.  They even knew the name of their new companion, and they knew why the tractor was standing among them.  From that moment forward, the little blue tractor was named ‘Lil Tug by Jay and his crew, as it was going to be helping move all of its vehicle friends around the garage to new positions when special events were held, or for when they needed servicing.  All of the vehicles were capable of moving around on their own power, but for some of them it was uncomfortable to have their engines started and then stopped without having the chance to warm up.  ‘Lil Tug became their hero as it let them relax their engines as he pushed and pulled them around the garage.

Life was good for ‘Lil Tug, but after four years of exciting work in Jay’s Burbank, Ca. garage, it began to think about its past, and perhaps even more about its future.  It was great to have such an important responsibility helping Jay, his garage crew and all of the friendly cars living in the garage. But the years had been moving rapidly and ‘Lil Tug knew it was getting older.  It knew that it was different than the other vehicles in the garage which became more valuable as they grew older.  They were very special, and while ‘Lil Tug knew that being in Jay Leno’s garage also made it special, it still would not go down in history as the other vehicles in the garage would surely do.

Suddenly, and too rapidly, the day finally came when ‘Lil Tug was to be retired.  Jay took possession of a new younger, more powerful tractor to carry on the chores. The New Holland tractor taking its place was beautiful, which caused ‘Lil Tug to worry more about its future.  If only it could be like its friends in the garage – to become something that would go down in history and live happily for countless years into the future, even becoming better with age.

‘Lil Tug envied his garage friends such as the 1963 Chrysler turbine by Ghia, a stylish, bronze-colored four-seat sedan with a jet engine. The Chrysler turbine was proud that it was one of only three such vehicles in the world.  It would never be too old to retire.  ‘Lil Tug was amazed that such an old vehicle still could function on a diet of not only gasoline, but also kerosene, tequila and even Channel No. 5, so it heard, but wasn’t certain whether someone was pulling its axle about the perfume.

The McLaren F1, was also a favorite because it was a very modest vehicle that began to look more fantastic the longer ‘Lil Tug knew it. When ‘Lil Tug saw how well the McLaren F1 did its job, the more beautiful the vehicle appeared.  In fact, all of the older vehicles impressed ‘Lil Tug, such as the 1955 Mercedes Gullwing, an old race car that those in the garage said was “ahead of its time” with a tubular frame, independent suspension, really cool doors – a car which enjoyed telling stories about its racing history.  Even the really old 1926 Bugatti Type 38a roadster still boasted about its great engineering and especially about its supercharger.  It also was very grateful to Jay for getting it back into shape after admittedly not exercising for a few years.

Probably one of ‘Lil Tug’s best friends was a 2006 Pratt & Miller C6RS Corvette, which was not only close to ‘Lil Tug’s age, but was also modified to be fed E85 ethanol. Since ‘Lil Tug lived on a biodiesel diet, Jay Leno’s support of alternative fuels created a bond  between the two quite different vehicles – the tugging tractor and the Corvette performance car.

‘Lil Tug was happy for all of the other vehicles in the garage, but it still remained sad that there was nothing about itself that would make it go down in history.  As the days and weeks passed, it was certain to fade away as all of the other vehicles continued to glow more brightly.  But then something surprisingly happened.  During the summer of 2011 Jay Leno and New Holland jointly announced that on January 21 of 2012, ‘Lil Tug would glisten under the spotlights of the prestigious Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. ‘Lil Tug wasn’t certain what that meant, but the vehicle friends in the garage were very happy as they said it was a great honor.

Still, ‘Lil Tug was confused as to why it was chosen to receive this honor.  It had been so busy making friends in the garage and doing its work that it didn’t realize it had become something special.  The little blue tractor from Dublin, Ga. had become a celebrity.  While still confused, ‘Lil Tug couldn’t help feeling proud because of where the money received in the auction would be used.

The Fisher House Foundation, best known for its network of 5,000 to 16,800 square-foot comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers, would be the recipient of the proceeds.  The Foundation helps many families have a place to stay without unnecessary expense while a loved one is receiving treatment. Also, Barrett-Jackson said it considers charity work as part of its business philosophy and is waiving its fee for auctioning the tractor.

Suddenly the four-year-old tractor found itself getting a complete health check by New Holland and a glamour treatment in Jay’s garage. ‘Lil Tug felt healthier than it had since the day it arrived at the garage. The name ‘Lil Tug was carefully painted on its hood, and soon it was visiting important people and became the subject of many interviews.  It was driven into the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. and displayed before hundreds of broadcast journalists and friends.  Scores of cameras flashed as ‘Lil Tug soaked up the limelight.

It was a fun time for ‘Lil Tug as it was driven around the country in an enclosed trailer that was usually reserved for the other more popular vehicles in Jay’s garage. It kept asking itself the same question over and over again:  “Why me?”

The answer finally came when it learned that Jay Leno and New Holland had yet another big surprise for it.  It was so beyond the ‘Lil Tug’s wildest dreams that it almost choked on its own fuel.  No longer was it worried about not being worthy enough for the famous auction and capable of helping the veterans and their families. A great honor was bestowed upon the little blue tractor with humble beginnings, and it would carry it proudly onto the Barrett-Jackson auction block.

‘Lil Tug couldn’t wait until it carried the secret honor back to his friends in Jay’s garage.  Friendly horns blasted in tribute to the new celebrity as it was driven through the garage doors.  When the celebration horns finally finished sounding their cheers, all of the garage vehicles agreed that the little blue tractor was indeed going to go down in history – Big Time!

And soon the world would know all about the historic surprise that would change the ‘Lil Tug’s destiny.