by Craig Maltby for Club LT
Ever since the invention of the wheel, humankind has create a race for it in all its myriad forms. Chariots, buggies, bicycles, motorbikes, cars (of course) and trucks, and now riding lawnmowers.
I attended my first race a couple weeks ago. It was the Sta-Bil National Lawn Mower Racing Series Double Header event in Carlisle, Iowa. I don’t live far from Carlisle, so I thought I’d mosey over.
It’s a small track, more of a go-kart size. The crowd is fans, friends and families sitting in lawn chairs and under their awnings for the day-long event. Still, there is the flagman at the finish line, the PA announcer, and burgers on the grill outside of the concession stand.
The lawnmowers themselves are, obviously, modified for racing. The have rear bumpers for safety and stability. They don’t have blades (SAFETY!), but they do still have the blade decks.
The “prepared” racing class events allow beefed-up engines, but they must still be mower engines, not Harley Davidson hog motors. They can reach speeds up to 85 mph, and they don’t sound like your Saturday afternoon excursion trimming the fescue before the in-laws come over.
Stock mowers engines have a max allowable RPM of 3560 and removal of the governor is not allowed. They can reach 6 to 8 mph.
The racing I saw was intense. Believe is or not, the field of 15 or so racers is pretty spread out by the time the checkered flag is waved. It’s truly a race of track strategy, efficient placement and movement, and not “my engine is bigger than yours!”
And, there are wipeouts. I saw one, and it was pretty scary. Two racers who collided were thrown from their mowers onto the infield. A few other machines banged into those two mowers. It was a mess. But all recovered and the race resumed. No vehicle damage was incurred that put anyone out of the race.
And I noticed no seat belts, probably because there is no roll bar behind the driver’s head. Better to get thrown off than to be stuck in a crashed mower that others may repeatedly smash into.
Many states have lawnmower racing associations. They started racing in 1972. Go check out a race sometime. Maybe someday you can be a blade-runner, only without the blade.
About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo.