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Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead!

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Don’t throw away your old ride on, race it instead, says Tim Sykes of Gardenproud.

My son Harry and I were treated to the whole new world of lawn mower racing yesterday .

We’ve got an old ride on which we’ve been wondering what to do with for sometime and by chance we heard about the British Lawn Mower Racing Association from our local equipment supplier in Tunbridge Wells.

We checked out their website and found it to be a very lively organisation.

Yesterday they were running a 12 hour endurance race at Five Oaks, West Sussex. So we packed the camera and turned on the Sat Nav and headed out to find out as much as possible about this exciting new sport.

Click on this video link  IMG_9226

Click on this video link  IMG_9227

There was no problem finding the event as apart from the wonders of Sat Nav the AA had helped signpost the way. Once at Five Oaks, West Sussex the race circuit was well laid out and marshalled. It was £5 a head to get in and there were refreshment tents, souvenir tents. Everything you’d expect at a properly organised event. Various people had taken their tents so they could camp out and stay with the race as it hurtled through the night.

We watched the timed trails. These took place in the afternoon from 3.15pm. To the layman these looked just like the race although I suspect the actual thing is more competitive and pretty hairy during the night. You will be surprised to see just how fast these machines zoo round the grass tracks, often spinning round corners on just 2 wheels! The drivers wear all the kit too. So they are as safe as can be, plus look the part. At first sight the racing mowers look a bit heath robinson, but on closer inspection have been souped up to carrier round the tracks.

There are 3 main types of racing machine:

Group 3 and Group 4  both use 13.5 hp engines and these include vehicles that look like tuned mini tractors, and other lower gravity machines that are more reminiscent of go-karts than mowers. Anyway I’m assured they were mowers once upon a time! Actually they have to have been, otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to race them.

The third category I really loved. This is Group 2. These machines started out life as cylinder or roller based machines, but they now look more like a cross between an old fashioned bob sleigh and a cricket mower. The cylinder contraption sits in front and tows a small chariot on which the driver sits. They lie low on the track and no doubt take some handling, but look the business!

For the endurance race you need a team of drivers. Plus a skilled team of mechanics and lots of spare parts. The pitstop area was arranged just like a Formula One area, with teams stopping off for essential repairs and driver changes.

The BLMRA was founded in 1973 by a bunch of beer drinking enthusiasts in Wisborough Green. They hold a number of events each year including a Grand Prix, National and World Championships, plus a 12 hour Endurance Race. Apart from the UK events have been held in Ireland, France, Luxembourg and USA.

Lawn Mower Racing has attracted all manner of drivers including some of the greatest such as Stirling Moss ( who I was once very privileged to share the cockpit of a Lola with – very scary) and Derek Bell – the UK’s greatest Le Mans winner. Both of whom have won the 12 hour endurance race twice!

So if you take this up you’d be in great company.

Well after yesterday we are thinking  very seriously about starting a Gardenproud Racing Team during the 2014 season.

Let me know if you have a ride-on mower you might like to donate to us.

Contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 at Gardenproud, or go to the BLMRA website if you would like further information.