MOTOR SPORT: Boy racers sneer at farm worker Dave Beck as he drives his tractor around Nantwich's country lanes. But he has a secret. PETER MORSE found out about his life in the fast lane. DAVE Beck can only chuckle when he hears teenagers boast that their souped-up road car can reach 60 miles per hour in under seven seconds.
He travels a quarter of a mile in that time.
Dave, of Burleydam, near Aston, is one of the finest bike drag racers in the world, but hardly anybody in this country knows. In America he features on television, people wear T-shirts bearing his face and clamour for his signature.
In England he just holds up traffic on his Massey Ferguson.
Last week Dave finished the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Prostar championships in fourth place, against racers and teams with far superior financial clout. The competition is effectively the sport's world championships.
It is his best ever finish in the AMA Prostar since he started competing with his team, Florida-based Murdoch Racing Enterprises, in 2000. Only mechanical problems prevented a higher finish.
But still, he's not happy. 'We could have done better,' he declared. 'The points between the top six were really close and if we hadn't been unlucky with mechanical problems, I think we could have been further up there.
'I know it is the best season so far but that is the way I am. I think that is how to push yourself on. The team is working on making the bike better and I want to improve next season.'
The tractor driver and mechanic makes regular trips across the Atlantic to compete with the best of the best. Drag racing is essentially an American sport. The best contenders from Europe and Australia make the journey to test themselves to the limit.
He took part in all eight races between March and November, funding his own travel. But the lure of a $2,000 first-place prize, compared to £200 in England, makes it worthwhile.
The six-time British champion and former European champion was the first man to clock more than 180mph outside America and has a personnel best 200.2mph set at Indianapolis.
He only focuses on the AMA Prostar now, where regulations allow for bikes to be extra-charged by the use of turbos and nitrous oxide.
However, he did enter four of the seven ACU British Championship contests this season - and won them all. It earned him second place overall.
The racer, who describes himself as 'a young thirty-something', said: 'A lot of the British races clashed with my time in America, but I like to torment the other drivers when I can! It keeps me sharp and my confidence high. I still hold all the track records here.'
Dave, who works for the supportive Brian and David Johnson at Holland Green Farm, Nantwich, made the semi-finals of each of the final three races in the AMA Prostar. Although there were no wins, consistency is the key.
He has to change gear five times as he races towards 13,500rpm while battling a G-force of 4.5. A battle ensues to keep the bike on a thin track where the strong grip is, and to keep control as he hurtles towards 60mph in one second and 100mph in two.
The races over a quarter of a mile are over in 6.8 seconds. In these conditions, a cluster of top-four finishes is incredible.
Dave begins testing the improved bike in January and is already looking forward to the new season, which kicks off in March at Georgia.
He said: 'I am optimistic and if we can take the form of the end of last season into the start of the next, we can aim higher.
'It is hard without the finance that some teams have, but if we stay consistent and score points, anything is possible.
'Going 200mph is exhilarating - you know you are going fast but it also feels so smooth. I do have to laugh when I hear boy racers boast about going fast. They will probably never know what this feels like.'
Dave, who has featured on national USA television this year, is looking for sponsorship to help his drive for the title next year. To contact him, call 01270 871264 or 07771 652139, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org