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7 comments

Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

Posted April 26, 2012 9:09 AM by HUSH

There comes a time in every middle-aged man's life where he feels mechanically unsatisfied. At this point, he can purchase a shiny new sports car, like a Corvette, or perhaps a hog, preferably Harley Davidson. He could also hunker down in his garage/man cave and tweak that minivan into doing 180 mph.

But for some, that need for speed comes with the third lap around his house on his Cub Cadet lawn tractor at a blistering 8 mph. Yes, this is the post that will be about lawn mower racing.

...via Photo Camel

Credit must be given to The Cricketers Arms Pub in England, where in 1973 several young men complained about the excessive cost of motorsports. Shortly after, they formed the British Lawn Mower Racing Association. A United States version of this organization exists, with 45 local clubs. Various small Canadian clubs exist as well.

This isn't a history lesson, so let's get to the nitty gritty.

...via Zazzle

The lawn mowers used in this event are of the ride-on variety. The racers remove the blades and any other accessories that add unnecessary weight, but the cutting deck is retained and bolted firm. The engines are stock, but may be upgraded with performance parts. These parts are typically hand fabricated for each mower. There are four divisions in mower racing, which edict what you can or can't do with your mower. Stock and IMOW divisions allow for very limited amounts of mower tuning, and the stock governor must be retained, which limits the engine to 3650 rpm. For the Prepared division, racers are allowed to utilize custom performance parts and transmissions. These division races usually get up to about 35 mph. The Factory Experimental (FX) division is pretty much a free-for-all, with mowers that have exceeded 60 mph in circuits.

"For some reason, I really want to mow some lawns right now." ...via G-Team

These mowers are rather easy to customize and tune. If Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor can do it, I think any of our CR4ers can as well. (For your viewing pleasure, I've skipped the parts that feature Patricia Richardson. You're welcome.)

The majority of racing mower components can be adapted from go carts and motorbikes. The first alteration to the powertrain should be providing the transmission belt some slack so the transmission's stock pulley can be replace with a smaller one. The other side of the powertrain is connected to the motor, and this pulley should be replaced with one of a larger size. This enhanced gear ratio may need a new belt as well.

...via Craigslist

For most assemblies, the lawn mower's governor is a small piece of metal on top of the carburetor with a 90° bend in it. Other manufacturers will place a plastic governor under the flywheel on top of the engine. By bending this straight, or removing it completely, the mower's internal speed regulation is compromised. This will essentially make your mower unsuitable for regular mowing applications, since this also regulates rpm based on blade speed.

Briggs & Stratton governor system. ...via B&S

To further transform a normal riding mower into a racing edition, it may be desirable to install a foot throttle. This can be done with a simple lever attached to the mower, with a cable connecting to the original throttle cable. In many instances the brake on a racing lawn mower can be removed altogether, because the new gear ratio will provide enough of a deceleration to slow the mower down, nearly to a stop.

...via Kai Eiselein

Not all of this can be accomplished-at least safely-without also exchanging some stock parts on the mower. New tires are required to maintain traction, as well as new axles to prevent the stock ones from deforming. Since most mower racing is done on flat, dirt tracks, a new suspension isn't required, only recommended. In fact, bringing a racing-tuned mower into a field is extremely dangerous.

Now CR4ers, this isn't your typical Saturday afternoon DIY project. I've left out some very obvious modifications that need to be made so DO NOT follow these above instructions. This is more of an overview of something many of us are capable; a 'bare bones' review if you will. However, if you insist on building your own, a simple "Roundsearch" will lead you to many walkthroughs. And, if any CR4ers are mower racing enthusiasts, please add your two cents below.

An alarming number of TV shows cover this topic, yet I've never seen it on SportsCenter.

As for me, I've always preferred the pushing, non-electric kind of lawn mower. Or the kind that I pay to mow my lawn. Or better yet, the kind that I don't pay to mow my lawn. Get to it HUSH Jr.!

"Ummm, I'm speechless." ...via Maine.info

Resources

Yahoo Voices - How to Build a Racing Lawn Mower

Barette's Small Engines

G-Team Racing

Instructables - How to Make a Racing Lawn Mower

USLMRA

Wikipedia - Lawn mower racing

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#1

Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/26/2012 11:25 PM

I wonder how much driving around town I could get away with? We have had people in small towns arrested for drunk driving, of lawn mowers. Does anyone know of specific laws re riding mowers?

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#2
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Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/27/2012 12:10 AM

I don't know the legal parts of the laws in different jurisdictions but Alvin Straight went a long way to reach Wisconsin in 1994. Based on a true story, Alvin had a sick brother but had no drivers license so he hopped onto his lawnmower and just kept going. Check out the critically acclaimed movie Here. Worth the view.

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#3
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Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/27/2012 12:54 AM

I have seen it, and really enjoyed it! When I was a kid I wanted a Honda Trail 50 to travel long distances with. That would have been almost as bad.

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#5
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Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/30/2012 10:48 AM

You could probably get away with driving your rider on the road if you live in a small town and the police are not on the lookout for you.

Last summer in one of the small towns in my area lives a man named Loyd who has been the town drunk for many years.

Shortly after he lost his DL due to his 3rd DUI and almost killing a family of three in a collision (Loyd's fault) ole Loyd decided to go down to the local watering hole on his rider.

A local deputy out on patrol spotted the rider in the parking lot, figured it was Loyd and decided to wait and see.

About an hour later Loyd comes staggering out of the pub, jumps on the rider, cranks it up and takes off.

The deputy pulled Loyd over and gave him tickets for the following;

DUI, driving an unlicensed vehicle upon a public roadway, no seat belt, no insurance, improper vehicle lighting, and driving on a revoked license.

In my state, three tickets at one stop that involves alcohol or you are revoked and you go to jail to await a bond hearing and your vehicle gets impounded.

Loyd wound up spending 30 days in county as a result of his Saturday night out.

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#6
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Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/30/2012 11:00 AM

Wow! Nearly killing people when drunk driving should piss people off though. He had it coming. I wonder what would happen if he had ridden a bicycle? I guess drunks should learn how to walk, or get a taxi!

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/30/2012 1:28 PM

Some friends and I had this discussion a few months ago. I called another friend who had just graduated law school, and this is what he explained:

Most provinces/states base DUI laws on 'vehicle' operation. It depends on whether your state considers a bike a vehicle. Some states do, but most do not. If they do, you can have your license suspended and face similar charges as you would with a DUI. If they do not, they probably have another ordinance covering 'self-propelled vehicles' and alcohol, or generic 'drunk in public' laws.

In short, just walk or hitch a ride. Motorized wheelchairs are more often considered vehicles than bikes.

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#4

Re: Not Your Grandma's Lawn Mower

04/27/2012 5:00 AM

I had a Honda, imported from Afrika with a 4 strokes engine... but after all every one knows about it!

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