BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nothing conjures up images of the farm quite like a tractor. But when you live within the city limits like Vince Carr, tractors are a little impractical. That still doesn't stop the 62-year-old Minnesota transplant from firing up the engine of the rusted 1970 tractor in his yard. "Nothing that looks that bad should even start," he hollers above the rattling valves and choking exhaust.
"I started driving when I was 5 years old," Carr says, "I can take you to the exact spot where Dad stopped the tractor on the road and said, 'It's probably time you started driving.'" And that is when his love affair with farm equipment began. He grew up to build and repair tractors for three different companies. Now retired, the former diesel mechanic spends his time collecting them . . . in miniature.
"I received two toys on our first Christmas," he says. That was back in 1972. They were gifts from his mother-in-law. Since then, toy tractors have become his passion. Today, he owns more than 1,500 model tractors. And he has a story for almost every one, whether it's the memory of working on his neighbor's potato farm 'I remember leaving barely daylight and barely getting home before dark,' he says. Or the model painted in 24-karat gold or the first six tractors he bought for himself back in 1956. He still has the receipt for those.
When his collection outgrew his living room, Carr built them their own garage, a 24-foot by 36-foot, air-conditioned show place next door to his home. And when he couldn't fit any more shelves to show off his treasures, he built a rotating vertical showcase – a dozen shelves, each 16-feet long.
Some may look at this collection and see a man's obsession with toys. For Carr, it is a tribute to the machines of his childhood, the ones that put food on his table and probably yours, too.