A lawn mower race is a race in which participants ride modified lawn movers for a given distance. Generally, rules require the mowers to be "lawn-mowing ready," though typically mowers are not allowed to have cutting blades when racing. Both self-propelled rotary and reel-style riding mowers can be used in a lawn mower race.
The concept of lawn mower racing was developed in West Essex, England in 1973, when a group of motorsports aficionados looking for less expensive racing options realized that many people owned lawnmowers. Eighty participants raced in the first event. Lawn mower racing started in the United States in 1992 with the formation of the U.S. Lawnmower Racing Association. Today, lawn mower racing has a national following with more than 40 chapters and clubs in the United States.
People from a variety of age groups participate in lawn mower racing. The U.S. Lawnmower Association allows anyone 18 years and older to participate in the association's races. In addition, children between the ages of eight and 17 can participate in a lawn mower race if the child's parents give approval.
The U.S. Lawn Mower Association encourages safe riding. All lawn mowers must have working brakes and a kill switch. Participants must wear full-face helmets, or face shields and approved neck support. One of the races, the U.S. Open Kids Stock, has a 5 mile-per-hour (about 8 km/h) speed limit. Drivers are not allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages before racing and face expulsion and loss of points if they are caught violating this rule.
Lawn mowers can fall under one of several lawn mower race classifications. For example, in the Open Kids Stock Race, participants must use lawn movers that are largely unchanged from when they were purchased from the manufacturer, with the exception that the cutting blades must be removed. Other classifications are based on the age of the participants and the number of allowable modifications to the lawn mower. All lawn movers are inspected to make sure that they are competing in the appropriate class. The U.S. Lawn Mower Association may offer races where members only can participate and "open" races where non-members can compete.