Lawn Mowing Taken to a New Level!
File this one under the heading of “Little-Known Racing Venues.” But being little-known does not mean unsuccessful, by any means. The venue is called “Lawn Mower Racing,” and in 2017 it’s enjoying its silver anniversary as an officially-sanctioned form of racing that has garnered the attention of a growing base of fans.
How it Started
As a form of organized motorsports, Lawn Mower Racing grew out of an early 1960s tradition that began in the Northwest Indiana town of Twelve Mile, where in 1963 the “Twelve Mile 500” was born. This event brought to the grid a collection of factory-built mowers with their mowing decks removed, and has evolved through the years to a 15-mile, 60-lap event run on a quarter-mile track in Twelve Mile’s Plank Hill Park. The event allows for a maximum field of 33 entrants and, just like in NASCAR, the entrants must qualify on speed to compete in the feature.
With the success of Lawn Mower Racing in Indiana, other states were quick to follow. Wilkes County Agricultural Fairground in North Carolina began hosting events in 1984 under the auspices of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, and the regular Saturday night racing series has been reported to draw thousands of fans. The State of New Mexico joined the fray in 1983, where several hundred active racers took to the track, first predominantly in John Deere mowers and later in Craftsman machines. Then, in 2013, Saturday night racing began in Patton, Missouri where competitors from Southeast Missouri and parts of Arkansas battle in five separate classes, with driver ages ranging from 6 to 75. Lawn Mower Racing. is based firmly around the use of both engines and chassis from regular model mowers,
The Sanctioning Body
Just like stock cars, dragsters, and open wheel cars, Lawn Mower Racing has evolved to the point of having a central sanctioning body charged with setting rules, overseeing competitive events, and regulating driver safety and related issues.In the case of Lawn Mower Racing, the key sanctioning body is the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA). Born on April Fool’s Day in 1992, USLMRA’s silver anniversary season features a ten race weekend schedule leading up to the September 2 STA-BIL 360 Performance Finals in Carlisle, Iowa. STA-BIL, manufacturer of a fuel stabilizer a fuel additive designed to keep fuel fresh for quick, easy starts after periods of storage, is the series’ primary sponsor.
“We’re celebrating 25 years of kicking grass, family fun, American ingenuity and adventure,” said “Mr. Mow It All,” USLMRA President, Bruce Kaufman. “No matter where we mow, there we are!”
The 2017 Schedule
As noted earlier, the USLMRA schedule calls for 10 weekend events and a finale in September, with these events taking place in seven states this year. Here’s the 2017 schedule as reported on their website:
- Feb 18-19 – Florida State Fair, Tampa, FL
- March 10-11 – Southern Regional Championships, Avon Park, FL
- March 30-April 1 – Mecum Gone Farmin Tractor Auction, Davenport, Iowa
- March 31-April 1 – Clay County Fair, Green Cove Springs, FL
- April 1-2 – Gun Barrel City, Texas
- June 24-25 – Midwest Regional Championships, Claremore, OK
- July 1-2 – Western Regional Championships, Wamic, OR
- July 28-30 – British Mow Down Show Down & Hall of Fame, Clements, MD
- August 12 – Illinois State Fair, Springfield, IL
- August 26-27 – Apple River, IL
- Sept. 2 – STA-BIL 360 Performance Finals, Carlisle, Iowa
The USLMRA Hall of Fame
“Every legitimate sport and endeavor has a Hall of Fame. Now lawn mower racing takes its’ rightful place along such noble American pastimes as baseball, country music, motorcycle racing, pinball, juggling, trivia and quilting with a place to honor ingenuity and mowtivation.” (Statement by Bruce Kaufman, Founder and President of USLMRA).
Every year since 2009, the USLMRA has inducted new luminaries into its Hall of Fame at its mid-summer classic, when their compatriots from across the pond join the American racers for a wild event titled “British Mow Down Show Down.” The event is held in Clements, Maryland, July 28-39 and is one of the more memorable occasions for this fun-loving cadre of motorsports enthusiasts.
They’ve inducted some colorful racers into their Hall, including the likes of Ken “Turfinator” Smolecki, John “Sir Lawns-A-Lot” Nelson, Charles “Mr. Mowjangles” Powell, Bruce “Mr. Mow It All” Kaufman, and Jim and Janet “The Lawn Blonde” Witt, to name a few.
But, What’s it All About?
Well, if you ever have the chance to catch one of the USLMRA events live, you’ll see that these are real racers with a serious, competitive outlook on what they do. They say it’s mostly for fun, but watching the racers in action gives one a different perspective. The spirit of fun, though, is emphasized in this statement from the USLMRA website:
“The USLMRA is run for fun-loving racing enthusiasts and their friends. Members and affiliate racers enjoy the love of competition and to tinker, and all who share this philosophy are welcome. We don’t race for money, only trophies, glory, points and bragging rights! We balance American ingenuity with a sense of humor and a love to tinker and desire to go fast! By not racing for money, we keep our sport safe and affordable.”
Take a look at this Youtube video clip and see what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUEWki8rCUE