His expertise is uncommon and valued, which is why the Early Day Gas engine and Tractor Association chose Billups to be inducted into its national hall of fame.
"This is the only one in the Northwest region this year," said Northwest regional director for the association, Dick Tombrink. Five to six people will receive this honor nationwide based on several criteria: their contributions to this hobby, their efforts promoting their local branch, and their leadership and working to help others.
“This is an example of a person who has done these things and more," he said.
Billups received his recognition Sept. 6 at a 63-person strong gathering of the association's Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club chapter, Branch 54, held at his tractor museum and shop facility on Hill Street.
Presenters joked about his award's red border, reminiscent to International Harvester Farmall tractor colors, and Billups responded in kind: "I'm a yellow believer. I grew up on a Caterpillar," Billups said.
This is a notable honor for the local branch, which last year nominated former Grangeville resident, Andy Gortsema of Fairfield, Wash., for hall of fame recognition, according to branch president Eric Fogleman of Lewiston.
“And we hit it right with two back-to-back members," he said.
The association is comprised of hobbyists who enjoy working with and restoring antique tractors, engines and equipment, and preserving it for future generations. Branch 54, formed in 1992 and headquartered in Lewiston, has more than 200 members stretching from Riggins to Spokane, and Yakima to Missoula. Overall, the association has more than 11,000 members nationwide in between 140 to 150 chapters.
"I like to fix tractors," Billups said. "I do like to watch them run. And they all run," and he added jokingly, "If I can't make it run I don't want it."
Billups has worked for Bell Equipment for 65 years, and he maintains a collection of antique tractors and engines at his Hill Street shop. Here he annually hosts the branch's fall meeting in October and puts the old iron out for public display. The good part about the show is having the young, strong guys show up, he said, "so they can crank them."
Some of those tractors aren't his, Billups said, but belong to people he's restored them for, which presents a funny problem.
"I do these for people, and when I'm done I ask, 'Want to bring it home?' 'Why not keep it there a while,'" he says, and laughs, "Five to six years later I'm still keeping it."
Both Billups and his wife, Delores, thanks those in attendance for the award and their attendance at their shop.
"This is second to none," commented John Hahn of Craigmont, owner of Hahn Tractor Seats, on Billups' collection. "I've been around the country, and there's nothing can compete with it. You should be proud. It's wonderful."