‘It’s loud and it’s fast’

Racers compete for ‘braggin’ rights and an adrenaline rush’ at national event

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ELLERBE — With a pat on the right shoulder from dad Josh Johnson and a fist bump from little brother Dalton, 6-year-old Dallas Johnson was ready to hit the clay track in the No. 63 mower at Ellerbe Lions Club Speedway Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Josh Johnson, right, pushes 6-year-old Dallas, center, and Dalton, 3, up to the staging area at Ellerbe Lions Club Speedway.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Josh Johnson, right, pushes 6-year-old Dallas, center, and Dalton, 3, up to the staging area at Ellerbe Lions Club Speedway.

Unfortunately, his lawn mower wasn’t. The chain broke and Dallas’ 20-lap Kids Stock Class race was abbreviated after only a few laps. It was that kind of weekend for the Johnson family at the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association event.

“Just a bad weekend,” said Johnson, adding that his own lawn mower and his brother-in-law’s — combined, a $15,000 investment — broke down over the two-day racing event Saturday and Sunday.

Johnson wasn’t ready to throw in the proverbial towel or raise the white flag. Instead, he was already gearing up for the next race by recalling past successes.

Oh, and the rush of it all.

Lawn mower racing, Johnson said, is “different than anything else you could ever do. No other adrenaline rush compares to it. My wife says I’m crazy.”

If so, crazy runs in the family. Dalton, all of 3 years old, was supervising every move his father and older brother made. Short of strapping on a race helmet himself, he was ready to go. That precisely what Josh Johnson has in mind.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Matt Hewett, 36, of Pekin, finished fifth in Sunday's main race.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Matt Hewett, 36, of Pekin, finished fifth in Sunday’s main race.

“He’ll be racing next year,” said Johnson said, adding that Dalton will be following in his brother’s footsteps of starting at age 4.

If Matt Hewett is crazy, then so is his wife, Angie, 34. The couple and their children were all at the speedway Sunday afternoon. In the Sunday race, Matt Hewett finished fifth after a third-place finish Saturday night, which featured the largest crowd of the weekend.

Angie Everett, of Pekin in Montgomery County, was holding a 17-month-old in one hand while using the other to steady a video camera while her husband circled the clay track.

While her husband has raced before and is returning from a two-year hiatus from the sport, it’s Angie’s first season of lawn mower racing.

“It’s loud and it’s fast,” Angie said. “I enjoy it.”

Matt Hewett, 36, was clearly disappointed by his Sunday standing but didn’t dwell on it for long.

“I was hoping to win it,” he said, but “I finished better than I started, I didn’t wreck and I didn’t break.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Hewett said that’s a relief, because he and his fellow competitors take lawn mower racing “so close to the edge with what we dare to do, we’re so close to tearing it all.”

Other than a trophy, Hewett acknowledged racers are gunning for “braggin’ rights and an adrenaline rush.”

“That’s it,” he said, “but you get to meet a bunch of friends from all over the country.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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