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Oklahoma farmer, racer talks biofuels at Farmfest

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 1:04 PM

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GILFILLAN, Minn. — Fourth-generation Oklahoma farmer and champion racer Brent Hajek combines his two passions in racing vehicles fueled by biofuels.

Hajek, of Ames, Okla., was at Farmfest with his 2011 Ford F250 diesel that set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

The truck reached a top speed of 169.331 mph running regular diesel and set a land speed record of 182.143 running biodiesel.

Nobody has yet broken the record so they haven't returned to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Hajek said.

He points to the biodiesel logo on the pickup and says that every Ford diesel has the logo. It goes all the way back to Henry Ford, Hajek said.

During World War II, Ford built cars from panels made from soybeans because of the steel shortage. After the war the steel shortages ended, so it wasn't price competitive to continue using soybean panels.

Ford has now returned to its (soybean) roots and Hajek is working closely with Ford to develop products that help farmers and Ford showcase the power of biodiesel.

Hajek's idea to use motorsports to showcase bio-products traces back to his DeKalb salesman. The salesman drove in the yard with flex-fuel stickers on his truck.

"One stupid thing lead to another and here we are," Hajek said.

It's cool to showcase biofuels and cool to find new high-profile things to do with products that are grown on the farm, he said.

Hajek raises corn, soybeans and wheat.

He was irrigating double crop soybeans at home while at Farmfest. The soybeans follow a wheat crop that wasn't too bad. In fact, it was the best wheat he's harvested in years because the area of western Oklahoma where he farms has endured three to four years of drought. Grasshoppers are plaguing the area this year.

He enjoyed the mild Farmfest weather, saying at home it's 114 degrees with 40 mph winds for days at a time.

Hajek has been drag racing for 30 years all over the country.

"I've always loved it," he said.

Hajek began incorporating biofuels in 2008. Now, he's working with chemists at Monsanto and Ford to find new uses for corn and soybeans in bioplastics.

See him next at Dakotafest, Aug. 20 to 22 in Mitchell, S.D.