Jon “Rooster” Lewman of Coffeyville, Kansas and Cut Loose Racing is as well known for his pit antics as he is for his driving! These are his thoughts on the USLMRA as the second half of the 2014 STA-BIL National Lawn Mower Racing Series mows on…
Nobody can deny that the United States Lawn mower Racing Association has undergone a bit of a face lift lately, but the longer you’ve been around the more dramatic the changes. I have been racing since 2007… or 08?? Some where in there… time flies when your having fun, and it sets lap records when your having MOW fun!
The most obvious changes of course are the mowchines. When I started there were some “outlaw” organizations running super low slung mowers, with cart seats shoved between the fenders, cart tires and centrifugal clutches…we thumbed are noses at them and called them “Mowcarts”, I mean just because they are made from some mower parts doesn’t make them a mower!
Then somewhere around 2009 this really cool cat named Ryan Kerr from Canada and a few of his buddies came to a little race in Ooletewah Tennessee called the All American with some mowchines that were pretty much the same as those rag tag Mowcarts with 2 exceptions – they were fast & they were Pretty!! SO now how do we feel about “Mowcarts”?
Thats right, thumbs up and smiles… but they are not “Mowcarts anymore, noooo they are FX Mowchines!
Not only have the mowers changed but the tracks as well. I would not say the grass tracks with straw bales and bumps and ruts are gone, but they have been heavily replaced by well groomed dirt & clay ovals with banked turns. Permanent facilities have replaced many of the county fair tracks. They have brought with them a bit of safety, more speed and tighter racing. That has brought about more changes in the mowers as well.
In the day of the fair and festival races, we were up on the fenders with your legs much more under you, you needed that stabilization for the bumps, and the quick sit down for the LeMans starts. Go ahead and try a LeMans in an FXT, I’ll be 4 laps out on ya before you get your sod stompers on the pedals! These new tracks with more bite and more speed had the racers pushing every fender and seat rule they could to get the center of gravity down and keep all 4 wheels in the dirt!
Flying 2 might be fast on grass, but it’ll turn you into chicken poop on a good track. You know what chicken poop is don’t you? It’s what you’ll find in the dirt behind a Rooster!
Recently I attended the STA-BIL Midwest Summer Nationals at the River Bottom Raceway in Carlisle, Iowa. For health reasons it had been a couple of years since I had been to a national event. Almost exactly two years, as the last event I had attended was the inaugural Iowa race in 2012. I saw this new face of my beloved USLMRA quickly! Two years earlier Iowa was the mecca of the C/P class but now I’m not sure there’s one left in the state! The G/P class and FXS rules River Bottom Raceway now as it does most venues. The Iowa boys hooked me up with one of these new G/P rides and wow I did not know governed racing could be that sweet!
Another major change in racing in Iowa…..TUCK HAS A TRAILER!! Seriously, when I met Matt Tucker I called him “Tuck” NOT because of his name, but because of the way he packed not one, but two mowchines and all the tools and parts he could need into a minivan!
You know what else I found in Iowa? Old friends doing the same old thing! Justin Altemeir working on some one else’s stock class mower. Kenny Jones giving a racer he had never met parts to fix a break down. Bruce doing whatever he can to impede progress in the name of promotion. Kerry, Chrissy & Rich working their tail feathers off to keep things running smoothly and smiling pleasantly the whole time. Well, Chrissy smiles the whole time at least!
Doug Baber and Dan Love and Sid Woody and Marty “Donkey” Murphy and the whole Iowa crew constantly working to keep the track race able. I’d also list all the drivers that gave me liquid refreshment…but I do have a deadline! Hands were shook, stories swapped, lies told, jokes played and good times were had.
Double NNutz was there!!! No race is complete without at least one driver that is twice as crazy as legally allowed in most states. Glenn Van Epps covers the bases for the USLMRA On that one. The ever giving spirit of “Whatever I can do to help out” lives on in the USLMRA!
What I really found in Iowa? Although the face may have changed, the HEART of the USLMRA, the staff, track management and workers, Local Club officers, remains the same. The SOUL of the USLMRA, the drivers & their families, the friends and competitors, the LOVE of the family that is the USLMRA is still there where it belongs. For as much as racing mowers may change, mower racers are still the unique breed we have always been and always will be!
Ready… Set…. MOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jon “Rooster” Lewman of Coffeyville, Kansas and Cut Loose Racing is as well known for his pit antics as he is for his driving!