As a self-confessed petrolhead I have spent many an hour around a dyno, writes Graham Baalham-Curry. Be it as part of a group day where car owners bring their road vehicles to see who can claim the most horsepower, or the setting up of carburettor’s on an old rally car, there is a demand and need for such ‘rolling roads’ within the automotive industry.
However, recent news to me was that the agricultural sector also relies on similar dyno technology. Not only to assess the output of machinery, but to fine-tune and increase the HP and frugality of a huge fleet of machinery across tens of thousands of farms that put food on our table in Northern Ireland.
It is reasonably common practice that a couple of times a year this I agricultural sector would come together in the name of charity, bringing some of their heaviest machinery, and via it’s PTO shaft seeing who can talk the talk and whose machinery can walk the walk.
Kirkistown Race Circuit on the outskirts of Portavogie, County Down was the unsuspecting venue for a recent such event. As no stranger to seeing power, it was without doubt a strange sight to see in excess of £5,000,000 worth of agricultural machinery and lorries, alongside a fleet of blue light TV action vehicles roll into the paddock on a cold and very blustery winter’s morning at the end of November.
The man behind it, prolific fundraiser, Stevie Evans, who has, over the last two years, raised almost £40,000 for the Air Ambulance Northern Ireland with the sale of a calendar featuring his imagery of machinery working the fields around the Ards Peninsula.
The time and energy consumed by such a venture is nothing short of mind-boggling. Stevie’s efforts more than commendable, thus far. But the young Kirkistown man was not content, and he was adamant that his fundraising efforts would start with a four.
A Dyno Day is not something that occurs often on the Ards Peninsula, but with a more than suitable venue secured, along with an adequate amount of dyno machines and operators giving up their time in the name of charity, the ‘Low Country Dyno Day’ was born.
Kirkistown’s manager, Donal O’Neill stated, “The Low Country Dyno Day was, simply, a massive ‘feel good’ event at Kirkistown Race Circuit. The hard work put in by Stevie Evans, Darren Gilmore and many others, was rewarded by a great turn-out from the Farming Community. The tractors just kept coming!
“Although Kirkistown is used to having lots of horse power in attendance, I think the total amount in the paddock at the Dyno Day will have surpassed anything experienced before.
“While the craic was ninety, the really important things were the two charities, Air Ambulance NI and OGCancer NI. Everyone is aware of the wonderful service that is provided by the Air Ambulance but perhaps people are not so aware of the work of OGCancer NI.
“The prime objective of OGCancer NI is to get people to understand that, for example, persistent heartburn, difficulty swallowing or long bouts of hiccups may be signs of oesophago-gastric cancer. It is vital to get it checked out so that early treatment can begin, with the best chances of success.”
Donal continued, “OGCancer NI wanted to get a chance to present to the farming community because farmers, like nurses and entertainers, are the greatest proponents of “The show must go on!” attitude, often putting their health well behind getting the work done.
“The 500MRCI are very happy to have been involved is such a great community event.”
At the time of writing, over £10,000 has been raised via entry fees to partake in the event, spectator access fees, an auction on the day, the sale of raffle tickets and the sheer generosity of donations from across the province.
“I’m glad that’s over!” Stevie Evans said afterwards. “But also that it was a huge success.”
A total of 86 tractors got dyno’d on the day and it was the Fendt 936 brought by Chris Blair that achieved the highest output with 336 HP. The Claas Xerion brought by Trevor ‘Cleet’ Thompson wasn’t far behind in second, and close to him in third was the Ford 8970 of Craigantlet man Allistair Cooke.
“The support from this tight knit community was fantastic on the day. And with donations still coming in, the total amount raised is still to come, but I can assure you that it is in excess of £10,000.”
Evans continued, “This event would not have been a success without the small team of volunteers from both the venue and the farming community who made it happen. A huge effort went in to make this day a huge success, and the money raised speaks volumes for everyone’s efforts.
“Most of us know someone close who is, or has been affected by cancer. The rural community also relies on the vital and life-saving efforts of the Air Ambulance NI on a regular basis, we just never know when we will need such services.”
Grace Williams, Area Fundraising Manager at Air Ambulance NI said, “It was such a pleasure to work with Stevie and his team on the Low Country Dyno Day at the end of November. Stevie, his family and the team of helpers behind the scenes, are such an inspiration, organising this unique fundraiser in support of Air Ambulance NI; we are so humbled they chose to support us in this way.
“As a service we rely heavily on charitable donations to keep the medical team in the air, delivering critical care to patients, who have suffered trauma throughout Northern Ireland – without continued support, the team simply couldn’t fly.”
“Every single penny counts,” continued Grace, “With a daily fundraising need of £5,500, we are so grateful to Stevie for this wonderful donation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his continued, vital support and for organising such an amazing day for all who attended – Well done!”