Ready, Steady, MOW!
Over the weekend, if you had been looking for stories on motorised racing, you would have been swamped with stories on the glitzy and glamorous world of Formula One and how it did in Spain. At the other end of the racing spectrum, though, is a group of petrolheads with just as much passion and love of the adrenaline buzz from the physical challenge of racing, and of course last weekend was the season opener.
Unlike our heroes in Formula One, though, these chaps don’t have multi-million dollar budgets; in fact, they don’t even have cars – these heroes do it on lawn-mowers! Yup, everyday common garden lawn-mowers of the ride-on or tractor variety. We suppose you could call this Grass Roots Racing! Like any idea that was born in the pub after a few too many had been consumed, the idea was of course daft. But 27 years later, the British Lawn Mowers Racing Association is still going strong. The Association has attracted some of the luminaries from the world of F1 to participate as well over the years and Moss, Bell and Reed have joined the ranks of the fun-loving few to have enjoyed the strictly amateur sport.
Split into four classes, there are Lawn Tractors, Kart-style Lawn-bugs, Low-rider Roller-driven Mowers towing a seat, and of course the quintessentially English Run-behind Uprights. Perhaps it is only the eccentric English who could pull this off, but even these chaps are not barmy enough to leave the blades in the vehicles, which have of course been removed for safety reasons. Power is also limited to 10hp. But apart from that, just about anything goes, except the fact that mowers must generally conform to the manufacturer’s original specifications.
Legend will tell you that the original idea came about in the Cricketers Arms in Wisborough, when a group of chaps were discussing motorsports on a budget and one of the assembled suggested lawn mowers. And before anyone could utter Flipping Flymo’s, the British Lawn Mower Racing Association was born. Now the sport is a global phenomenon with a packed calendar and global events as far away as New Zealand.
If trying to race around a bumpy grass field is not challenging enough for you, then why not try what they do in Finland – lawn-mower racing on ice. The Leikkure LeMans was a pre-season event held in March in the small Finish Town of Lavia, which is about 250 kilometres North of Helsinki. This was an endurance event with teams of two drivers having to complete as many laps of the 700-metre circuit as possible in 12 hour.