It's just the sort of story guaranteed to catch the public eye. Five Irishmen and a vintage tractor named Betsy have begun an epic trek across the famous Route 66 to benefit the Irish Cancer Society.

The group is led by retired sheep farmer Kevin Curran from Waterville, Co Kerry, and includes several farmers. He began fundraising for cancer research in 2010 after his wife Eileen, who had named the tractor, died from cancer.

According to the Irish Times, the group accompanying Betsy, a 1963 Fordson Dexta, left Los Angeles yesterday to travel travel the 2,500 miles east to Chicago.

Curran told the Irish Times it would take 15 days, assuming there were no major setbacks along the way. Betsy’s support team reportedly includes Maurice Fitzgerald, Frank Meara, Ogie Moran and Mark Walsh.

It's not Curran's first time making an epic quest. His previous fundraising tractor treks with Betsy include a Malin Head to Mizen Head jaunt, a trek from the Ring of Kerry to Dingle, and one from Mizen Head to Carnsore Point.

But this time they have really raised the stakes and this is also the first time they have left Ireland.

The tractor arrived in the US in July with little time to spare. But even with the short notice, the team say they have been contacted by many Irish people living in the States who have offered support and spare parts, should Betsy run into complications.

Curran said the group had decide to support the Irish Cancer Society 'as each one of us on the team has been touched by cancer either directly or indirectly and we want the funds raised to go to fund cancer research so that future patients have better outcomes.'

Irish Cancer Society chief executive John McCormack told the Times he was thrilled that the charity had been chosen by the fundraisers.

'Kevin and his team have taken on this fundraiser for the last three years raising significant money for the Irish Cancer Society and to see him take this fundraiser across the Atlantic shows a huge amount of creativity and passion for the cause,' McCormack said.

Irish farmer Kevin Curran on Route 66Fabian Lewkowicz []