Lawn Mower Racing Brings Family Together to Compete During Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway
The family that mows together grows together; this is especially true for the Sullivan family of Rocket Man Lawn Mower Racing. The family will take to the dirt at Charlotte Motor Speedway April 6-7, as the Food Lion AutoFair hosts the STA-BIL Lawn & Garden Mower Racing Series for two days of lawn mowers racing at speeds up to 60 mph.
Raleigh, N.C. native, Pete Sullivan, races with his 11-year-old son, Wyatt, and several other members of his family located all over the East Coast. Pete is a five-time national champion while Wyatt was the 2012 co-national champion in his youth class.
“We have two family lawn mower racing tree branches that each extend three generations,” said Pete, who also works as a partner at the Raleigh-based firm of LStar Management, a privately held real estate investment firm.
“My day job is all about helping families realize the American dream of home ownership, and my weekend passion is racing lawn mowers with my own family.”
Pete’s father, Pat, known as “The Rocket Man,” is from Venice, Fla., and started the team 11 years ago. The patriarch of the Rocket Man Lawn Mower Racing team has built every one of the team’s 10 machines and is a four-time U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) national champion.
Pat, Pete and Wyatt are the first and only three-generation racing family in the USLMRA, and have ten national championships between the three of them. Pete’s sister, Tina Paccione, from New Jersey, also races along with her husband Mike Paccione, a two-time national champion. Their son Joey, the latest addition to Rocket Man Racing, is finally old enough to compete this year.
Pete’s cousin, Danny Sullivan, from Plattsburgh, N.Y., also races with the USLMRA when his quarter-mile, asphalt-racing schedule allows. The team also has a pit crew which consists of Pat’s three grandchildren.
The Sullivan family will join other lawn mower racers from across the country to compete in bladeless competition at the “The Greatest Place to See The Race,” Charlotte Motor Speedway. Racing starts at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 and 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 7.
A custom-built dirt track will be created at the fifth-mile oval located behind Charlotte Motor Speedway specifically for the racing mowers, which compete in 11 classes with all cutting blades removed. Racing is sanctioned by the USLMRA, where racers compete for points, trophies and bragging rights. The USLMRA is sponsored by STA-BIL®, America's top selling fuel stabilizer.
Lawn mower racers from across the country will compete at Charlotte, including members of the East Tennessee, Florida, Mason-Dixon, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio Lawn Mower Racing Associations, along with the Alabama-based Dixie Outlaws. National and regional champions will be on site to race and visit with fans all weekend.
Food Lion AutoFair annually attracts more than 100,000 visitors, features nearly 50 car club displays and offers a surplus of automotive parts and memorabilia for sale or trade. There’s also a collector car auction conducted by Dealer Auctions Inc. and more than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Food Lion AutoFair is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For tickets or additional information about Food Lion AutoFair or other events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. Follow Charlotte Motor Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cltmotorspdwy.