MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 30,000-pound tank and a one-mile course. Plus, you are the one driving. What’s not to love?
It’s all part of the “Drive a Tank” experience in the little town of Kasota, near Mankato. That’s where they have about 20 military vehicles dating back to World War II.
In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how this one-of-a-kind course stays on track.
On a cold and rainy fall day, there’s not a whole lot you can do outside. But you can drive a tank in rain, wind, sun or snow.
“I’ve always been interested in mechanical things, machines. Especially unique machines you don’t see every day,” said Tony Borglum.
When he was 16, Tony sold his snowmobile and bought an army truck. After that, you could say he got on a roll.
During a trip to England with his dad, Tony visited a guy who ran a business called “Tanks a Lot” — a place where you could drive military tanks, for fun.
“Once we saw his experience we thought it might be interesting to bring that back to America because at the time there was no one in America who was offering military or tank-driving experience,” said Tony.
So in 2006, they started with a couple of military vehicles and customer interest took off.
“Then, within a year or so, things exploded. We ended up purchasing more vehicles. And then we picked up our first Chieftain main battle tank in July of 2007,” said Tony.
That tank is affectionately known as “Larry.” He weighs 121,000 pounds and specializes in turning regular cars into compacts.
“Larry has crushed almost 2,000 cars to date since 2007,” said Tony.
But Larry is far from alone. Today, Tony’s business has 20 military vehicles that you can drive on a one-mile course.
When you take a tank for a spin, you drive through the woods and around an old stone quarry. Elevations and angles can vary quite a bit, but there’s no shortage of mud.
Tony mostly buys his vehicles from military collectors in countries like England, Poland, and Russia, and the people who visit his course come from around the world.
“There’s a lot of tourists from China or other countries you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be into military vehicles. Them being able to experience this stuff is a big thing. They’re willing to travel just for this,” said Tony.
Driving a tank is an attraction that Tony hopes stays on track. For him, the appeal is as much about the history as it is about the action.
“They are the vehicles that have shaped our country and our world into what it is today,” said Tony. “We just want people to come out and experience the vehicles, have a good time, but most importantly learn and respect the vehicles so they a better understanding of what our military personnel does for us.”
Each Drive A Tank experience comes with a history lesson.
To learn more, click here.