"Mr. Mow It All" Brings Excitement of Lawn Mower Racing to the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series
During the summer, Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series, which features the best grassroots racers in the country competing in Legend Cars and Bandoleros. But next Tuesday, “grassroots” racing will be taken literally when lawn mowers are charging around the speedway’s frontstretch quarter-mile.
The man responsible for bringing the mowers to the show is known as “Mr. Mow It All.”
The man behind the name, Bruce Kaufman, is the founder and president of the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association. The USLMRA is the largest sanctioning body for lawn mower racing in the country, with more than 500 members. He and the Gold Eagle Company, owner of the league’s sponsor product STA-BIL, came up with the idea to partner in the creation of the league after hearing about lawn mower racing in Europe.
“We said, ‘You know, we have to do this right. If we’re going to do this, let’s create an association, a national sanctioning body, rules, lawyers, insurance people, the whole nine yards. Let’s do it right.’ That was 20 years ago and we’ve been rocking and mowing ever since,” Kaufman explained.
Rocking and mowing is right. Kaufman takes his racers all across the country to dash around ovals, tri-ovals, road courses and any other type of track that they can find in a fight for championship points, just as any other national touring series would. The league also has drivers that compete solely at “home tracks” and at special exhibitions like the one that will happen next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Even though Kaufman is usually behind the scenes running the show, he still enjoys the few times he gets to take a lawn mower out for a spin.
“I don’t race competitively, although I have taken a mower out, and every time I do, it’s awesome,” exclaimed Kaufman. “It’s just so much fun!”
Many of the competitors have driven race cars at some point in their careers, but they all say that there’s nothing like getting out on a race track on a lawn mower.
“The mowers have no suspension. They’re small and low to the ground. People just love to race them,” Kaufman said of the drivers in his league. “And by and large, the best majority of the machines are built by the drivers themselves. So they take great pride in making these one-of-a-kind creations, even giving them a funny nickname [such as “Turfinator” and “Sodzilla”], and then taking them out on the track.”
Having only been a casual motorsports fan before he discovered lawn mower racing and watching only the big races in Daytona and Indianapolis, Kaufman now has a passion for racing and is “mowtivated” to bring the mowers to Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We’ve been to Charlotte Motor Speedway before, about 12 years ago, and it was awesome. And quite frankly, it’s Charlotte Motor Speedway. I mean-the prestige,” Kaufman said excitedly. “The crowd is going to love it and our racers are going to love it. It is just a crowning achievement for us.”
Even with the growing number of drivers and spectators, Kaufman still sees ways in which he can grow the USLMRA.
“I think in this economy, there is no more affordable sport to get into, both in terms of the mowers themselves and for communities to host lawn mower races. So I have big plans for this thing moving forward. We want to expand into television and we’d like to get more solidified with some of the other countries like England and Germany and Luxembourg one day,” said Kaufman.
The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association has races all over the country and more information can be found at www.letsmow.com.
Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are $7 for adults and are available in advance at the speedway ticket office or at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Kids 13 and under get in free. The first 1,000 fans through the gates for Round Five of the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series will get a Frisbee courtesy of Jack in the Box.
Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action starting at 5:10 p.m. Opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. and feature races are scheduled to conclude by approximately 10 p.m.
For tickets to the Summer Shootout Series, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
For live updates during the Summer Shootout Series, follow hashtag #SummerShootout on Twitter. To join in on the conversation simply include #SummerShootout in your tweet.