Lawn mower racing is a unique and exciting motorsport that has captured the hearts of many enthusiasts around the world. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to understand and participate in lawn mower racing, as well as tips and FAQs to help you make the most of this thrilling experience.
The Origins of Lawn Mower Racing
Lawn mower racing has a rich history, with its origins dating back to the 1970s. The sport was first introduced in the United Kingdom by Jim Gavin, an Irishman who was inspired to create a unique and affordable form of motorsport. In 1973, the first official race took place in a pub garden in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, England. Since then, lawn mower racing has gained popularity worldwide, with organizations and events dedicated to the sport in countries such as the United States, Australia, and Germany.
In the United States, the sport is governed by the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association, which hosts numerous events throughout the year. The sport has attracted enthusiasts of all ages, with its emphasis on fun, camaraderie, and accessibility.
Getting Started in Lawn Mower Racing
Before you can participate in lawn mower racing, you’ll need to find a local club or organization that hosts races. These organizations often have specific rules and regulations, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with their guidelines.
Once you’ve found a local club, you’ll need to select and modify a lawn mower to meet the racing requirements. This usually involves removing the cutting blades and making performance enhancements. It’s important to choose the right lawn mower for your needs, as different types of mowers may be better suited for specific racing classes.
Lawn Mower Racing Classes
Lawn mower racing is divided into several classes, depending on the type of mower and engine used. Common classes include:
- Stock: Standard lawn mowers with minimal modifications
- Prepared: Modified mowers with performance enhancements
- Super Modified: Highly modified mowers with powerful engines
Each class has its own set of rules and guidelines, so be sure to consult your local club’s regulations before choosing a class and modifying your mower.
Tips for Lawn Mower Racing Success
To excel in lawn mower racing, consider the following tips:
- Practice your driving skills, as handling a racing lawn mower can be very different from a regular riding lawn mower.
- Perform regular maintenance on your racing mower to keep it in optimal condition.
- Invest in proper safety gear, such as a helmet, gloves, and eye protection.
- Familiarize yourself with the essential lawn mower safety features that should be present on your racing mower.
Building and Modifying Your Racing Lawn Mower
When preparing your lawn mower for racing, consider the following steps:
- Choose the right base mower: Select a lawn mower that meets your chosen racing class requirements. For example, riding lawn mowers are often used for racing due to their larger size and greater potential for modification.
- Remove the cutting deck: As a safety precaution, you must remove the mower’s cutting deck and blades before racing.
- Upgrade the engine: To increase your mower’s speed, consider upgrading the engine or making performance enhancements, such as installing a high-performance carburetor or exhaust system. Always consult your local club’s regulations to ensure your modifications are allowed.
- Strengthen the frame: Reinforce your mower’s frame with additional welding or bracing to withstand the rigors of racing.
- Improve handling and stability: Install wider tires for better traction and stability. Additionally, consider upgrading the mower’s suspension and steering components for improved handling.
- Add safety features: Ensure your racing mower has the necessary safety features, such as a kill switch, proper brakes, and a secure seat with a harness or belt.
The Lawn Mower Racing Community
Lawn mower racing is more than just a sport; it’s a community of like-minded enthusiasts who enjoy the thrill of competition and the camaraderie of fellow racers. By joining a local lawn mower racing club or organization, you can connect with others who share your passion and learn valuable tips and tricks from experienced racers.
Additionally, participating in lawn mower racing events can provide you with opportunities to network with other racers, share knowledge, and even discover new racing venues and events. Many clubs also host social events and gatherings, allowing you to forge lasting friendships within the lawn mower racing community.
The Benefits of Lawn Mower Racing
Lawn mower racing offers numerous benefits, both for participants and spectators. Some of the advantages include:
- Affordability: Lawn mower racing is a cost-effective alternative to traditional motorsports, allowing more people to participate without breaking the bank.
- Accessibility: With numerous clubs and organizations hosting events worldwide, lawn mower racing is accessible to a wide range of people.
- Competition: Lawn mower racing offers an exciting and competitive environment, allowing racers to test their skills and enjoy the thrill of the race.
- Camaraderie: The lawn mower racing community fosters a sense of camaraderie among racers, promoting teamwork and cooperation while still maintaining a competitive spirit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I race with a standard lawn mower?
While you can use a standard lawn mower as a base for your racing mower, you’ll need to make modifications to meet racing regulations, such as removing the cutting blades and making performance enhancements.
How fast can racing lawn mowers go?
Racing lawn mowers can reach speeds of up to 60 mph (97 km/h) or more, depending on the class and modifications made to the mower.
Can I participate in lawn mower racing without any experience?
Yes, many clubs and organizations welcome newcomers and offer guidance on getting started in the sport. However, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations and ensure you have the proper equipment and safety gear.
Lawn mower racing is a thrilling and unique motorsport that offers an affordable and accessible entry point for motorsport enthusiasts. By understanding the history, rules, and tips for success, you can enjoy the excitement and camaraderie that lawn mower racing has to offer.
In conclusion, lawn mower racing is an exciting and unique motorsport that provides an accessible and affordable option for those interested in racing. By understanding the sport’s history, rules, and tips for success, you can enjoy the thrill of lawn mower racing and join a welcoming community of fellow enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a slightly different sport that’s a little more ridiculous than usual or just an alternative use for a lawnmower, why not try lawn mower racing? This sport is good fun and usually entered into for entertainment in a spirit of fun, making it an entertaining and accessible sport to participate in or watch, but it is possible to also take the sport seriously if you want to. This sport is a real thing, and is more interesting and exciting than you might think!
If you’ve been interested in lawn mower racing for a while, or have never even heard of it before, read on for a brief introduction to lawnmower racing. We at Best of Machinery have put together a short guide to lawnmower racing, exploring the history of this unusual sport and its modern state, as well as answering some of the most frequently asked questions about lawnmower racing.
What is Lawn Mower Racing?
Lawn mower racing is exactly what it sounds like: the sport of racing lawnmowers! While it might sound like a joke, this lawn mowing competition is entirely real, and consists of racing lawn mowers around pre-defined courses, just like cars or go-karts. While some races require the use of a lawn mower with all its factory standard parts, other races allow participants to tinker with their lawn mowers, adjusting them for higher performance and faster speeds, as long as the main chassis and the engine are still those of the original lawn mower.
Lawn mower racing should not be confused with similar sports such as go-karting! Go-karts often use lawn mower engines, especially for lower powered karts aimed at amateurs, but the two sports are distinct and clearly separate. Lawn mower racing requires both engine and chassis to be from regular models of lawn mowers, and can occur on far rougher surfaces than go-karting!
The History of Lawn Mower Racing
The earliest known record of anyone racing lawn mowers was in 1968, in the United Kingdom, when the Ashton on Mersey Cricket Club organized a lawn mower race as a charitable event for the benefit fund of cricketer Ken Higgs. This was an 880-yard race, and even had corporate sponsorship! People may well have raced lawn mowers for fun before this, but the 1968 Lawn Mower Grand Prix is the first recorded instance of an organized lawn mower race anywhere in the world.
Lawn Mower Racing is still primarily centered around the United Kingdom, although lawn mower racing clubs exist across the world. The British Lawn Mower Racing Association (BLMRA) was founded in 1973 in order to create a motorsport that did not cost very much to get involved in, as most people own lawn mowers and they are far cheaper than racing cars!
Lawn Mower races now range from short distant sprint races to long distance endurance races, with the BLMRA 12 hour annual endurance race running every year since 1978. This is an internationally renowned lawn mower racing competition that attracts participants from across Europe and even occasionally from the USA.
In the USA, lawn mower racing has been a sport since the 1970s, with a wide range of different racing events across the nation. The sport was imported from the U.K. by a petrol company, the staff of which had witnessed a lawn mower racing meet and wanted to introduce the sport to the USA on their return. Since then, American lawn mower racing has grown to have many different national organizations, ranging from the American Racing Mower Association to the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association.
Types of Lawn Mowers Used For Racing
There are many different types of lawn mower used in lawn mower races. As long as your lawn mower is self-propelled, it is probably eligible! Whether it is a ride-on mower or a push behind mower, there’s a race for you. Some races will have separate classes available for different types of mower, but others are more casual and do not have any particular restrictions on which types of lawn mower are used in the races. In general, though, as long as it has got a lawn mower chassis and a lawn mower engine, it’s used for racing somewhere.
The one modification that is essential is the inclusion of a tethered kill switch. These are safety elements that automatically shut down the engine of a ride on vehicle in the event of the rider being thrown off the saddle. They are generally available for snowmobiles and other similar vehicles and must be firmly attached to both the driver and the racing lawn mower as a safety precaution in lawn mower racing.
Higher powered lawn mowers must always be inspected by racing committees to ensure that they are safe and not packing any illicit extra power that might give an unfair edge over regulation lawn mower components. This is a process known as “homologation,” and it is an important part of ensuring fairness in lawn mower racing circles!
Lawn Mower Racing Race Categories
There are many different types of lawn mower available, ranging from walk behind mowers (or, for racing purposes, “run behind” mowers) to lawn tractors, and these are all different enough that they are not really comparable and cannot be fairly raced against one another. As such, most lawn mower racing events use four standard classes, with different categories of lawn mower in each one.
The smallest and lightest class of lawn mower for racing is the walk behind (or run behind, when racing!) mower, a category covering all small walk behind powered lawn mowers that do not have seats attached. These are small mowers that most people with smaller lawns tend to own, as they are ideally suited for maneuverability in confined spaces.
The second category of lawn mower races includes towed seat mowers and roller driven mowers. These are medium-sized powered lawn mowers with an engine in the mower part, and a separate seat dragged behind it, with no additional drive provided by this back section. These are relatively unusual lawn mowing tools that not many people own, but they are common enough to be included as their own weight category for lawn mower racing.
Group 3 racing lawn mowers are smaller ride on mowers with wheel based propulsion systems. These are used for larger lawns but are still small enough for domestic use. They are generally smaller and more lightweight than full garden tractors, but still offer a large amount of power, making for relatively intense and powerful lawn mower racing vehicles.
The final category, for the largest mowers, is reserved for full lawn tractors. This category covers any ride on garden tractor with a car style bonnet for access to the engine. These are primarily used for commercial use or mowing more extensive estate lawns, but they make for excellent racing lawn mower choices in most cases. This is the highest power category for lawn mower racing, providing the most speed and intensity of any lawn mower racing category.
In most cases, there are subclasses within each of these four classes, for modified and unmodified lawn mowers. The unmodified lawn mowers must be driven with all of their factory provided elements and no modification to the chassis or engine, while the modified category allows for tinkering and customization to most aspects of the lawn mower, within the regulations. This means that you are not allowed to purpose build a lawn mower specifically for racing, and it must be modified from some commercially available lawn mower body.
Do Racing Lawn Mowers Have Blades?
Mowers used for lawn mower racing never have blades, under any circumstances! The presence of blades on a racing mower would be extremely dangerous, and for your mower to be eligible to race, you need to remove the blades. You should leave the blade deck attached, though, and it should be reinforced to ensure that it can hold your weight securely and does not wobble during driving of your lawn mower at racing speeds.
How Fast do Racing Lawn Mowers Go?
In general, the maximum speed that a racing lawn mower can travel at is exactly the same as the maximum speed of a regular lawn mower. As the engine of a racing lawn mower has to be a lawn mower engine, there is not much that can be done to push it to higher speeds! For the most part, lawn mower races occur at speeds of approximately 6 to 8 miles per hour. This is hardly fast, but it is fast enough to be exciting and entertaining when you are in the middle of an intense lawn mower race!
Safety Gear for Lawn Mower Racing
Lawn mowers might not move particularly fast, but it is still essential to ensure that you wear appropriate safety gear at all times. Most lawn mower races require that you wear a helmet, gloves, neck support, long sleeves, and long pants for your own safety! Protecting yourself from injury during lawn mower racing is vitally important, and you should take every possible precaution to ensure your safety as far as possible before participating in any dangerous sport such as lawn mower racing.
Getting Started with Lawn Mower Racing
Lawn mower racing happens across the world, with racing meets in a wide range of different places. If you live in a particularly distant area you might have to travel for a while in order to find a lawn mower racing meet, but searching for local chapters of the USLMRA is a great first step to take when looking for a local lawn mower racing meet that you can get involved in, or simply watch if you are interested but not yet willing to commit.
The world of lawn mower racing is a surprisingly deep and complex one, with regulations and practices just like those of any other sport. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a serious world only for intense sport fans, though; lawn mower racing is a sport that has always focused on having a low barrier to entry, ensuring that lawn mower racing is an affordable sport that is accessible to anyone that wants to give it a go.
This brief introduction should give you a sense of what the world of lawnmower racing looks like, but if you’re interested it is worth seeking out further information; this is a deeper field than a single article can cover, and there’s lots of other info out there!