UK: High Thrills at the World Lawnmower Race


The climax of the lawn mower racing season in the United Kingdom has taken place with the world championships of the unusual sport on Sunday (July 14).

The format of this unique World Championship Grand Prix is a series of sprint races where drivers accumulate valuable points over a weekend of racing, with each group of lawnmowers taking part in 16 races.

The Ferraris or McLarens of this sport have names more often associated by the layman with garden centers: Atco, John Deer, Webb or Westwood.

"I enjoy the fact that you turn up and get loads of races over the weekend unlike a lot of other sports. I guess like any other form of motorsport, whatever it might be, the red mist comes down and you are competing with any individual in any given race and it's just the thrill of that, I guess," said racer Mark Robson.

For obvious safety reasons all the blades are removed from the mowers and only minor modifications to the engine are allowed. It's a sport which boasts on the website of its official organization, the British Lawn Mower Racing Association, that its main objectives are "no sponsorship, no commercialism, no cash prizes and no modifying of engines".

Conditions were near perfect for racing; a beautiful summer's day. However the dry conditions and a somewhat dusty track added to the excitement.

The driver with the most points over the two days of racing (13 and 14 July) is deemed champion. Rivalry is fierce, after all bragging rights are at stake for this most coveted title.

The sport is separated into four groups - Group 1 based on the basic cylinder mower, group 2 for roller-driven mowers, group 3 for wheel-driven mowers and group 4 for wheel-driven lawn tractors.

"If you look at the demographics of who rides which mower, the group 2 tends to attract the older person and the group 3 the youngest, you know the young bull who comes into lawnmower racing who wants to go group 3 because he perceives that's where it's all at," said course manager John Lowdell.

Battling it out for top honors in Group 2 were three main protagonists in the form of current World Champion Mike Cresswell, Roger Knowlson and rookie Andy Saywell. In the end it was new boy and ex-Moto X racer Andy Saywell from Dorset who had the 'cutting edge' over the other competitors to secure his first World title.

In the group 3 race, defending champion Dean Fuller beat off the opposition to secure his fourth World title.

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