Lawnmowers are destined for drudgery.

Confined to the garage for at least half the year, they’re let loose only to pace the lawn and chew an overgrowth of grass and weeds. Then it’s back to the concrete dungeon, where the mower and weed whacker play cards to pass the time and the snowblower writes cheerless poetry between stifled sobs.

There’s no joy in a lawnmower’s life. No relief from the monotonous back and forth. No moments of glory.

That is, unless a lucky lawnmower finds its way into the tinkering hands of a lawnmower racer. It does happen.

The valiant mowers at the Saco Pathfinders Club lawnmower races are proof of it. The biweekly races are a novel way for the club to raise funds during the off-season, and they give a few specially chosen lawnmowers a taste of grass-free heaven.

The concept is simple. Those old riding lawnmowers most folks would “put out to pasture” (or, more appropriately, remove from the pasture) are modified slightly for the racetrack.

Blades are removed to prevent an unfortunate limb removal. A tether is attached to the key, so the mower turns off should a rider get tossed. And the wild mower riders are expected to wear helmets in case of a mower collision or a tight turn tipping.

Races power up at 7 p.m. on alternate Fridays, with a pace mower leading the racers around the small oval track. When the green flag goes waving, the race is on.

There’s clearly a trick to keeping upright while riding around the small dirt track. A number of racers keep their rears to the inside of the seat, dangling precariously over the side of the mower.

Sometimes a mower loses a wheel. Sometimes a mower pants, coughs and comes to a rolling stop. Sometimes it can be revived. Sometimes it’s pushed somberly off the track.

But it’s inspiring to see those mowers fulfill a speedy destiny that eludes most motorized lawn-care equipment, if only for a few spins around a dirt track on a warm summer evening.

There aren’t as many treacherous spills and collisions here as you might find at Car Wars at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, but the expectation of some dramatic overturn still keeps watchers attentive.

It’s $4 to spectate at the races, and the proceeds go straight to Saco Pathfinders for winter trail grooming and other expenses.

There’s a small kitchen inside the clubhouse where red hot dogs, burgers, fries and the like are sold. And folks in the stands seem pretty comfortable paired up next to their coolers. What was in them, I can’t say. But people don’t usually bring 12 sodas to a two-hour event. I’m just sayin’.

It’s all part of the celebration, when a lawnmower gets to be more than a lawnmower.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected]


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