It’s not every day that you invent a new sport. It all started over a few too many beers, at a country pub in Victoria some 30 years ago. A booze-driven argument between five mates led to a ride-on lawn mower race around the local streets (naturally, right?) The event has since gone on to inspire a whole community of adrenaline junkies and sports nuts; members of what is now known as the Australian Ride On Lawn Mower Racing Association, or AROLMRA.
“Half the town’s 100 people, 300 sheep and 150 dogs were there,” according to Brian Ross, six-time president of AROLMRA
Holding 8 – 10 events a year, across junior, C, B and A class categories, the organisation has developed a strong following across Victoria and wider Australia since those humble beginnings. With similar clubs popping up around the country, ride-on lawn mower racing is becoming steadily more popular. Much of this can be attributed to the ease of entry into the sport—with ride-on lawn mowers being somewhat more prolific and a darn sight more affordable than traditional racing vehicles.
It appears that the sport is also inspiring the mechanically-minded, with the likes of Cain, an 18-year old enthusiast enjoying the DIY aspect of the sport.
“You’ve got to make it yourself,” says Cain. “You’ve got to raise the handlebars and make it longer and do everything you can to make yourself fit, and then you have to get a good enough engine to haul you around.”
So, exactly how easy is it to build, or beef-up your ride-on mower to racing standards fit for the AROLMRA events? According to Instructables member ‘Mowerracer’, with a little bit of mechanical nous and a can-do attitude, almost anyone can reach the dizzying heights of lawn mower racing champion.
Can I race my stock-standard ride-on mower?
Mowerracer has a few things to say about that.
“Many of these mowers go 50MPH or more. Making a race mower isn’t as simple as taking a stock tractor and making it go fast without any alterations. So, it’s important that the frame, brakes, steering, engine, and wheels are modified or altered to handle this additional speed.”
Great advice. So, how do I go about these modifications?
Well, you’re going to need a whole heap of parts. As these parts aren’t of the off-the-shelf standard variety, you’ll have to hunt around to find parts to fit your mower and fulfil the your requirements (rocket engine, anyone?)
Here’s a list of what you are most likely going to need:
- An engine (duh)
- Transmission (right-angle gearbox, according to Mowerracer)
- Centrifugal clutch (If you’re confused already, this may not be the sport for you)
- Sprockets (of the Jetson’s variety?)
- Front and rear axles and spindles
- Steering wheel (oh yep, that’ll help!)
- Brake system
- Electrical components (mmm…vague!)
- Wheels and tyres
- Accelerator lever
- High-endurance engine components (again…vague!)
Great! Now how do I put it all together?
If you’re more than slightly at a loss as to how to assemble this myriad of parts [raises hand], then YouTube is probably something you should become intimately familiar with. A golf buggy or motorcycle can be handy places to find some of these components, and save you having to make them yourself (never mind that you may have to wreck a perfectly good golf buggy…)
Luckily for you, we’ve tracked down some expert rednecks mower racers, who’ve kindly put together a series of videos to show you exactly how to turn your boring old ride on mower into a speed-demon-machine-of-death-and-fun. Happy racing!
“That thing did 27 miles an hour, with no brakes.” John & Ike from CarsandCameras.