It's Bumpy, Loud and a Little Bit Funny. It's Lawnmower Racing


Lawnmower racing season kicks off Carousel: Emma Wood/Getty Images; Video: Reuters
Lawnmower racing season kicks off Carousel: Emma Wood/Getty Images; Video: Reuters

Spring in the Northern Hemisphere can only mean one thing: the smell of fresh cut grass hanging in the air and the start of lawnmower racing season. Laugh away, but modified mowers can go as fast as 35-40 mph (56-64 kph) on the track. 

Stock-class mowers (a regular ride mower just with the blades removed) chug along at a more modest 6 mph (10 kph) or so, according to the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (tagline: The MOW the merrier).

Want to give it a go? The association stipulates that the mower has to be one that's sold commercially and is designed to cut lawns. Here are a few more basics of this competitive sport, as laid out by the USLMRA:

The mower blades must be removed.

The mower must have an engine safety cut-off switch.

The mower must have two brakes that work well.

The mower must be fueled by gas. No additives allowed except STA-BIL fuel stabilizer, which is a sponsor. 

The rider has to wear a helmet, pants, long-sleeved shirt, gloves and decent shoes, plus proper neck support.

Riders can be as young as 10 years old.

In the U.S., the association kicks off the season as early as March, and this year it will hold nine different events, with the performance finals held at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, North Carolina. Local clubs host their own races, too.

People in the U.K. also enjoy cruising around competitively through the countryside on their mowers, as the video above demonstrates.

And even though the sport encourages novices to give it a try, it still takes a while to get the hang of it.

"It takes a lot of time to get to a good standard. ... It's not like jumping in a car and just turning the wheel and pedals and gears. You've got to learn about ... how you lean, how you brake, the different types of surfaces that you're racing on, so it really does take three or four years before you get the hang of how the mowers race," Dean Fuller, lawnmower racer, tells Reuters.

Definitely something to ponder next weekend when you're cutting the lawn.