Ever find yourself dreaming of glory while maneuvering your riding lawn mower around soccer balls and lawn gnomes in the backyard? Have you ever timed yourself to see how quickly you can cut the grass? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, there may be a not-so-secret society waiting for you.
The world of lawn mower racing might not be as high-octane as NASCAR or as tradition-laden as IndyCar, but you’ve got to start somewhere, so it might as well be on your mower. Here are a few things to know before you jump into the world of lawn mower racing:
The oldest lawn mower race in America, the Twelve Mile 500 Lawnmower Race, was first held in Twelve Mile, Indiana in 1963. The race is still held each year on July 4. For years, lawn mower racing enthusiasts had no formal organization, though this changed on April 1, 1992 (no joke), when the formation of U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) was announced. In the years since, lawn mower racing has become more sophisticated, while still retaining its original charm. There’s even a National Lawn Mower Racing Hall of Fame.
Among other rules, the cutting blades must be removed from all lawn mowers before they can race, so if you get your kicks out of actually, you know, cutting the grass, mower racing may not be for you. Regarding tires, the USLMRA has mandated that the tires on each axle must be of similar size and type. Racers also must use lawn mower tires, so your Carlisle lawn tires are a great choice.
The typical lawn mower race track is about 1/10 of a mile and is made of dirt or clay. Nobody really seems to mind the lack of grass, since none of the mowers have blades anyway. Believe it or not, modified lawn mowers can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour or more, but the speed really depends on the amount of effort racers choose to put into modifications – not to mention how much they value their safety. Racers in the USLMRA don’t race for money, but they do race for just about everything else, including fun, bragging rights, points, trophies, and the occasional lawn ornament.
You may be surprised to find out that the USLMRA has dozens of chapters and affiliated clubs across the country. The organization holds approximately 150 sanctioned races every year. Participants range from the most experienced lawn mower racing aficionados to the weekend warriors whose backyards aren’t quite – ahem – cutting it for their competitive natures. Want to try racing your lawn mower? The USLMRA has chapters and clubs across the country. Take a look at their website and see if there’s one near you.