Jeff Ludeke has come across his fair share of tractor parts. For two decades, he was a repair technician at a John Deere dealership in rural Nebraska. Recently, he started his own repair shop out of several garages he built at his home in Atlanta, Nebraska (population: 131).
So, what do you do with a bunch of extra farm equipment parts? If you're Ludeke, you build the Ludekrusher, a DIY monster truck built on the chassis of a '99 Chevy Silverado.
Ludeke's garages are filled with various Frankenmachines: He's got an extra-horsepower tractor named after President Trump, a lime green convertible he modified to look like a classic whip, and various old farm vehicles outfitted with custom twists. But his pride and joy is the Ludekrusher, a street-legal monster truck with harvester combine wheels, a modified suspension, and a stock engine, which lets him drive it around town and in local parades.
"I've got some looks from cops but they just kind of nod at me," Ludeke told me.
Having never before ridden in a monster truck, I asked Ludeke to take me for a spin. We strapped a GoPro to the ladder I used to get into the cab, put our camera operator in the truck bed, and went ripping through a cornfield outside of Ludeke's house.
The Ludekrusher rides smoothly, but we did have one serious problem. After roaring through a small swamp, the truck hit the edge of a hill, breaking the its drive shaft and leaving us stranded at the bottom of a bog. After calls to a half dozen of Ludeke's relatives, someone rescued us. I'm happy to report that Ludeke towed the Ludekrusher out of the bog and it's since been repaired to ride another day.