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Lawn Mower Racing: Wait – We Can Explain…

The History Of Mower Racing, Cut Short

Lawn mower racing is a fairly young sport. I had its beginning in the early 1970s in West Sussex, England, United Kingdom by man named Jim Gavin. He and a few friends were rather dismayed at all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded actual races – the sponsorships and all the expenses associated with racing cars. It was them that the British Lawn Mower Racing Association was born. The idea was to have a cheap, fun sport. Lawn mowers are generally owned at every house, so there was great potential to have more people involved. In fact, about 80 people showed up for event not long after.

Mower racing does have a pre-organizational start, however, when the Ashton on Mersey Cricket Club held a lawn mower racing event to raise funds.

In the United States, in the town of Twelve Mile, Indiana, the tradition of racing lawn mower had been held since 1963. Every year on the fourth of July they would hold a race called the Twelve Mile 500, and still exists to this day. It was actually introduced to the United States by the makers of Sta-bil after having seen a meet.

There has since been no one to stop the growth of this sport, including its growing number of organizations.


Image credit: byfir0002

Grass – You Don’t Really Need It

Some safety attire and a mower is all that will fill your to-get list. Of course it is a little deeper than that. Depending on the organization of which you are a part, the rules and regulations will vary marginally. Generally, you will need long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a bike/motocross helmet, gloves, and appropriate shoes. As for your race horse (read: lawn mower) you will need to make mods, unless you plan on losing to other racers by no less than 20mph. Some mowers are modified to go well passed 50mph. Of course with said caliber speeds, there needs to be other precautions taken, such as brakes, steering, and an auto-shutoff mechanism or switch in the not-so-rare event you are hurled from your buggy. Mowers that have been built specifically for racing are not generally accepted. It should be a store bought mower with the intent to be sold as a tool for cutting grass. Further regulations, rules, and safety concerns can be found with the organization of which you choose to be a part.

How Is Lawn Mower Racing A Thing?

There are not too many homes you will find without a lawn mower – they are easily and readily available. They are not that expensive, either. Mowers are relatively cheap to mod for racing. Being part of a racing association or organization is kind on the pockets as well. Also, children as young as age 7 are allowed in some races/rides. It can literally be a family affair. I mean, what dad doesn’t want to go out racing with his boy? What kid wouldn’t want to go racing? Another thing that makes it quite appealing is the atmosphere. This is not what you would call a professional sport, therefore, there is not a serious competitive air (of course you will get that one guy who wants to fight – but that guy is literally everywhere!). The idea is good, clean, relatively cheap fun for everyone. Of course there is some competition. There are trophies, and national recognitions and points that are kept per race (depending on your organization). Take a shop around and see where the grass is greener!


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The Reel Deal On Safety

Of course, when you consider the fact that you are taking a motorized gardening tool and adding a transmission, some breaks, and steering so that you can race others at up to 90mph, you may just wonder if this is at all safe. It is just as safe as anything else. Honestly, it is probably less safe driving your car on the freeway than it is driving a lawn mower through the mud.

There are plenty of regulations that are to be followed, and when followed, it results in the most fun (least danger). Only certain types of mower are allowed in for racing: many, if not all, races are open to only self-propelled rotary or reel type lawn mowers. Brakes must be operable on at least two of the wheels. There are also parts that are made specifically for mowers, to ensure the safest operation during racing. Lawn mowers also come in classes based on how heavily modified the vehicle is. Therefore, you will not find yourself being mowed over at 80mph because yours can only go 35. And even if that did happen, be happy that the mowing blades must be removed, regardless of where or with whom you race.

There is the whole issue of falling off of the lawn mower. It is actually not uncommon. This is why it is regulated to wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, protective shoes, gloves, and an authorized helmet. It’s just like riding a bike… A really fast bike… with four wheels… a little close to the ground. Some associations will require that the lawn mower have a tether to keep you on the vehicle, which also comes with its own regulations and rules.

Other little things, such as kill switches (to turn off the machine) are also a necessary. While there obviously exists safer activities in which to engage, there are definitely way many more dangerous ones.

“Let’s Mow!”

The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (henceforth will be called the USLMRA) is self-proclaimed to be the largest and oldest National Mower Racing Sanctioning Body. They hold races all over the country, either directly, or through their affiliated clubs. Annually there are more or less 150 races sanctioned by the USLMRA nationally. A good race is right around the corner from almost everyone. Take a look on their site soon to see the 2017 schedule. There, you will also find their official rules, interactive maps, and their “Lawnstars.”

There are other associations as well. See for yourself!

by Angelique Harris

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