Have you ever mused while cutting your lawn on a riding lawnmower that you are actually participating in a NASCAR or even a Formula One race? Have you ever turned the wheel of the lawnmower sharply to the left and imagined that you are hugging a corner of the track as you pursue the race leader?
Sounds silly, but it is a good way to pass the time when mowing the lawn. And that’s probably the closest you are ever going to get to participating in a race.
Actually, there is a way you can compete in a motorsport and do it on your riding lawnmower and the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) is providing the way.
Created on April Fools Day 1992, the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association is the sanctioning body for lawnmower races that are occurring throughout the United States.
There are as many as 200 lawnmower races a year, according to Bruce Kaufman, president of the USLMRA.
“When we first started in 1992 there was only one race,” said Kaufman. “But it received a lot of media coverage from companies like CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and well-known radio commentator Paul Harvey. The publicity got fairs, festivals, and other venues interested in presenting lawnmower races.”
Today lawnmower races are being held at such places as the Charlotte and Atlanta Motor Speedways as well as other motor speedway properties and the Big Time Speedway in Sacramento, California that is managed by the California State Park System.
There are three levels of competition –- State and National Series, which is the top level and goes around the country; the Mobile Chapters, which travel within regions; and the Affiliated Clubs, which are events held at local tracks where go cart races are commonly run.
Kaufman noted that there are 10 different classes running from mild to wild. “This allows a participant to spend as much money as he wants from a little to a lot as he competes,” explained Kaufman.
The mild classes are for competitors who want to race their stock riding lawnmower. The other classes are for competitors who want to modify their lawnmowers to go faster.
“We want racers to have fun and we want to encourage their ingenuity. We know that for many of the competitors the fun is in the build. So we allow some modification. However, we cap it and don’t allow someone to do something to their lawnmower that is not safe,” said Kaufman.
The general rule is that the lawnmower has to feature an original lawnmower motor; it has to look like a lawnmower and start off as a stock, commercially built lawnmower. Competitors are permitted to use no greater than a 20-horsepower, 465 cc motor.
Kaufman added that there is a thorough technical inspection of each lawnmower at every race.
Racers include people who compete with their ordinary stock lawnmower and have never raced a vehicle before. There are also people who have raced ATVs, motorcycles, go carts, and cars at some point in their life and want to get back into participating in a motorsport. Children who are 8 years old and older also participate.
“Children who have never raced before can now race with their dad and grandpa. There are three generation of racers who compete across the country,” said Kaufman.
He volunteered that people participate because of the special culture that is nurtured at the events. “It’s truly a family-oriented event. People get together and watch races, cook barbeque, discuss their lawnmower modifications and just hang out. It’s like a Grateful Dead concert for motorsports,” Kaufman said.
A sense of humor is also a must if you’re going to participate. A fun thing that some racers do is give themselves racing monikers that have a connection to lawn mowing. For example, there are racers who compete under the monikers of MOW-hammad Ali, The Turfanator, MOWjangles, Ace of Blades, Weedy Gonzalez, the Lawn Ranger, MOW’dacious, SODzilla, and the SODfather.
The association has a website, publishes a blog called The Cutting Edge Blog, an annual yearbook called The Cutting Edge, and an e-newsletter. It also participates in social media including Facebook and publishes videos on its own YouTube channel.
So the next time you cut your lawn and have a need for speed consider racing in a United States Lawn Mower Racing Association event.