As far as Russell Tinsley is concerned, lawn mower racing is a cut above other sports. It's a sport that turns a weekend chore into something “fun.”
Tinsley won in five different categories in 2011.
“It can be dusty, but it's really about going out there and having a good time,” Tinsley said.
To the racers, lawn mower racing is just like any other extreme sport.
“When you're out there, it's intense,” Ted Ames, president of South Georgia Lawn Mower Racing Association said. “It's white-knuckling.”
Lawn mower racing was founded in 1992 and is the nation's oldest and largest national lawn mower racing sanctioning body.
South Georgia Lawn Mower Racing Association (SGLMRA) is one of 40 chapters and clubs in the nation.
“We don't race for money,” Ames said. “We just race to have a good time and to have fun together.”
To race, drivers must be members of the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA). Drivers must be 18-years-old or must have parental consent if between the ages of 8 to 17.
Rain or shine, the drivers are on the track.
“The main thing we practice is safety,” Ames said. “We have an ambulance on hand. We require full gear, a neck brace and long sleeves. We follow all USLMRA rules.”
The lawn mower must be approved by technical inspection, and it must have been designed and sold commercially to mow lawns. All cutting blades must be removed.
There are five classes — Stock Class, as delivered from the factory, International Mowers of Weeds (IMOW), front engine and highly regulated, Prepared Class, prepared (modified) drive train, engine, etc., FX Class, major modifications allowed and JP Class, class for kids ages 10 through 15.
“The FX class, or Factor Experimental, is the fastest class,” Ames said. “We go about 45 mph.”
To prepare for racing days, Tinsley and other volunteers mow the lawn, scrape and water the track.
“We couldn't do it without all the volunteers we have,” Tinsley said.
Jordan Poole, 11, has been racing for almost two years.
“I love everything about racing,” Jordan Poole, 11, said.
Poole finished second at Saturday's race, but is still leading the JP Class with 1900 points.
Tinsley is leading the S/P, B/P and A/P Classes with 1850 respectively. Park Adams is in first in the F/X Class with 1950 points, and Greg Brown is winning the C/P Class with 1600 points.
SGLMRA is sponsored by Waller Heating and Air Conditioning, CNS Cable Network, Battery Source, Thomasville Tire Dept., Potty Man Portable Toilet Rentals, Fastenal, Kellie Starlin, Dairy Queen, O'Reily Auto Parts, Smith Electric Motor Service, J&B Auto Sales, Willingham Electric and Robinson Car Care.
The next race will be held March 2 at the track next to Ground Busters Horse Arena at the corner of Hwy. 84 Bypass and County Line Road
Gates open at 10 a.m. with racing beginning at 12 p.m. The entrance fee is $5, and pit passes are available for $10. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit www.sglmra.com