The World of Lawn Mower Racing
Super-Charged Racing Mower Madness
Lawn mowers are built for one purpose, and one purpose only: to help people maintain great-looking yards, parks, and other properties.
But people are creative. They're also competitive. On top of those qualities, they like to have fun.
That's just part of the explanation of how lawn mower racing evolved as a competitive sport.
Lawn mower racing is exactly what its name suggests: competitors race their mowers around a track for several laps, the same as your favorite Indy Car driver would.
They simply do it at a slower pace, on a riding mower that, when upgraded according to the rules, can still reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
And there are rules to lawn mower racing, as well as two official governing bodies that oversee the sport. There's also a history.
History of Lawn Mower Racing
Like most traditions, lawn mower racing was born not out of necessity, but out of a desire to do things better. In this case, the desire was to enjoy motorsports in a way that was less expensive and more accessible to everyone than traditional racing.
The first organization to embrace mower racing in the U.S. was the Twelve Mile Lions Club. It held the first American race on July 4, 1963, in Twelve Mile, Indiana, an annual tradition that continues today.
Not much later, in 1968, a cricket league in the United Kingdom held a "Lawn Mower Grand Prix" as a benefit to raise funds for cricket player Ken Higgs.
A UK rally car racer named Jim Gavin built on the idea of the mower grand prix in 1972. Looking for a less expensive way to enjoy motorsports, he and several friends from the pub challenged each other to race their mowers across a nearby field. After they announced the race, about 80 other mower racers showed up at the field to join in.
The British Lawn Mower Racing Association grew out of Jim Gavin's races and still oversees the sport in the UK today. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association debuted on April Fool's Day, 1992.
Lawn Mower Racing Rules and Basics
In addition to keeping score across an official racing season, these two organizations promote the rules of riding lawn mower races.
A key regulation of lawn mower racing is the use of both the original lawn mower engine and chassis. The actual mowers used in races can be modified in several other ways, but the essential components will look like those on the lawn tractor in your garage.
In the U.S., lawn mower racing has a few safety rules in place:
- Every mower has to have an engine kill switch
- Every mower has to have well-functioning brakes that work on at least two wheels
- No fuel additives other than fuel stabilizer are allowed (in fact, the fuel stabilizer brand Sta-Bil is an official sponsor of the USLMRA)
Most importantly? The lawn mower's blades must be removed. High-speed cutting isn't part of the race.
More About Lawn Mower Racing
If you'd like to learn more about lawn mower racing, the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association has member chapters across the country.
That being said, it's worth noting that the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) does not approve of lawn mower racing, citing its dangers and risks.
We'll repeat the warning here: lawn mowers are only supposed to be used for lawn care, in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications.
But if reading about people riding along on their mowers makes you want to (safely!) enjoy a mower of your own, we know just where you can start.