Racing was tense and exciting last Saturday at the Avon Park Mowerplex in which the North American Society of Grass Racers and Sod Slingers (NASGRASS) held their latest series of races.
In the International Mower of Weeds (IMOW) division, mowers are set up identically in a heavily regulated class that is based on driver ability. The slightest bobble or bad turn into the corners could cost the driver one or more positions.
The results for both the heat and feature races ended up being identical. The heat race, which is 10 laps, had Richie Pippin easily taking the checkered flag with Buddy Pippin and Justin Cagle finishing second and third respectively.
Richie Pippin also won the feature race, 20 laps, but not as easily. Buddy Pippin held off a late charge by Justin Cagle to retain a second-place finish. Cagle had fallen to fourth, but was able to make a move for third. His attempt to take the inside on turn four to the finish line fell short for the third-place finish.
The next fastest group, the Grand Prix (GP) division, mowers have the same engine specifications but have a prepared chassis and open gear ratio. Pat Sullivan won the heat race with Shawn Kennedy and Donald Leverington taking second and third, respectively.
Kennedy controlled most of the feature race with Sullivan and newcomers Green Isaacs right on his rear.
Kennedy slightly lost control in lap 17, just enough for Isaacs and Sullivan to pass him. Isaacs fought off the hard-charging Sullivan for first place as Sullivan came in second. Kennedy, who finished third, was disqualified after the race for high-engine RPMs, moving Mat Earp into third place.
Moving into the middle range of mower speed wise is the Grand Prix (GP) Twin. Same as the GP, except they have twin- cylinder engines that run faster. In the heat race, the popular Sam Miller, driving the Lightning McQueen, mower finished first with his son, Jeremy, taking second place. New racer Cody Fitzko rounded out the top three with a surprising third-place finish.
Sam Miller took an early lead in the feature race with Jeremy Miller and Fitzko staying within striking distance. Half way through the race, Sam Miller had some problems with turns one and two, sliding farther to the outside of the track, that also cause Jeremy Miller to move farther outside. Fitzko took full advantage, shooting inside on turn two into the straight to take the lead. Fitzko made the lead stick, driving flawlessly the last 10 laps for the win. Sam Miller finished second, Jeremy Miller in third.
The next to the fastest division is the Open Single. Mowers consist of a single cylinder flathead or overhead valve engines with major modifications. Pat Sullivan found himself back in first place for the heat race with Sean Kennedy in second and Donald Leverington finishing third.
In the second minor upset of the night, Sullivan did not win the feature race and did not place in the top three. Leverington pulled out the victory with Kennedy finishing in second for the third time in the night.
Daniel Thornton passed Sullivan late in the race to take third place.
The Open Twin is the fastest group on the track. They have twin cylinder engines with major modifications. The King of the Hill has been NASGRASS president Wes Pyburn in his No.12 mower nicknamed the “Red Rocket.”
But the Miller’s brought in their new mower in attempt to dethrone the red speedster. Jeremy Miller drove the all black machine onto the track with no numbers. Justin Cagle drove the Lightning McQueen mower in the heat race.
Miller’s mower had the speed to keep up with the “Red Rocket,” but it was not able to maintain the turns as it often slid out to the outer portion of the track. The result was that Pyburn placed first in the heat race with Miller in second and Cagle in third.
It was the same scenario in the feature race as Miller had speed, but had trouble around the turns.
Again, Pyburn prevailed easily for first as Miller again finished second. Leverington, a late entry into the final race, finished third.
The season is heading into the last two races of the year, the next being on Saturday, May 10 at the Avon Park Mowerplex.