Conventional forms of motorsports such as stockcars, sports-car racing, speedboats and even motocross have a tendency to be very costly. The initial investment can start at $20,000 for entry-level regional classes to more than $100,000 for a touring series vehicle. Not even to point out that it will cost thousands if not millions of dollars for testing, equipment, and engineering.
Aware of the ever-increasing expense of racing in an attempt to create an economical option, in 1973 a group of locals from the town of Wisborough Green, West Sussex, England came up with the plan of racing lawnmowers. The idea was straightforward: everybody in town owned a lawnmower, and so the cost to race would not be excessive. No call to search for sponsors, no pricey engines, no travel expenditure.
The essential tools to do the required maintenance of racing lawnmowers were already in the toolbox in the garage. The group put together an event that would take occur in a local farmer’s field. Information traveled quickly as the desire for competition spread. More than 80 participants showed up for the first event. I have seen local Saturday night short tracks with fewer contestants signed up on any given night. With expenses rising out of control, some 40-year-old racetracks have been compelled to shut their doors.
The initial race in 1973 was a big success, an instant hit. Racing lawnmowers was entertaining, fast, and furious. It’s no marvel that the participants desired more. As word of the event spread, so did the longing to get a piece of the action. And those who joined in the race developed a taste for more battle. Racing can be very obsessive, your body’s adrenaline can be more potent than anything your doctor might prescribe.
From that inaugural race, the sport has kept growing and evolving. What started as a small get-together has become a worldwide trend. In 1992, the sport crossed the ocean. The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association, USLMRA, launched lawnmower racing in the United States.
In the North America alone, racing lawnmowers has gained national recognition and is administered by several sanctioning organizations. There are several local chapters as well as touring series. You’ll even find prime time sponsorship for some of the nationally televised racing events.
The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association broadcast the formation of the Lawnmower Racing Hall of Fame in 2009. While some may have once considered this sport designed for “country folk”, it considered a real and legitimate form of racing. You need to experience a race personally to truly understand the technology, the speed and the buzz of the rivalry.