The History of Racing Lawnmowers

Traditional forms of motorsports such as stockcars, sports-car racing, speedboats and even motocross tend to be very expensive. The capital investment can range from $20,000 for lower entry level local classes to well over $100,000 for a touring series race car. Not to mention thousands if not millions of dollars for tools, equipment, testing, and engineering.

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With the ever-escalating costs of racing in mind and in an effort to create a cheaper alternative, in 1973 a group of locals from the town of Wisborough Green, West Sussex, England came up with the idea of racing lawnmowers. The concept was simple.  Everyone in town owned a lawnmower, and therefore the cost to race would not be prohibitive. No need to search for sponsors, no expensive engines, no travel cost.

The basic tools to perform the necessary maintenance on racing lawnmowers were already in the in the garden shed. The group staged an event in a local farmer’s field. Word traveled fast, and the competitive hunger. A total of 80 competitors showed up for the inaugural event. I have seen local Saturday night short tracks with fewer teams registered on any given night.

The first race in 1973 was a big hit, an instant success. Racing lawnmowers was fun, fast, and furious. It’s no wonder the participants craved for more. As news spread of the event, so did the yearning to participate. And for those who participated in the race they developed a thirst for more action. Racing can be very addictive, the natural stimulant adrenaline can be more powerful than anything your pharmacist might recommend.

From that first event, racing lawnmowers has continued to grow and evolve as a sport. What began as a simple gathering of friends has become an international phenomenon.  The sport crossed the ocean in 1992. The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association, USLMRA, introduced lawnmower racing to the United States.

In the U.S.A. alone, the sport of racing lawnmowers is now governed by multiple sanctioning bodies and has gained national recognition. There are several touring series as well as many local chapters. Some racing events are even televised at the national level and have prime sponsorship.

In 2009, the USLMRA announced the creation of the Lawnmower Racing Hall of Fame. While outsiders may have once thought this sport was for “County Folk”, it has been legitimized as a genuine form of racing. Only after seeing a race first hand will you really appreciate the technology, the speed and the thrill of the close competition.  And then, you’ll be back for more racing lawnmowers.

Now that you are completely energized about racing and eager to participate, look for some of the many resources for getting started.

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