News

Throttle up for a day on the lawn

By John Lewis

Lawn mowing takes on a whole new meaning when there's a flag and a racetrack involved.

For members of the Australian Ride On Lawnmower Racing Association, it's about raising some dust, twisting the throttle and putting the fun into fundraising.

East Shepparton's Di Millsteed has been involved with the association for 20 years, and its president for the past 16.

"The people you meet are just so fantastic — mower racing is all about fun and supporting each other. I've seen people working under torches at midnight to fix a mate's engine for the next day," Ms Millsteed said.

But she's not a dirt-basher.

"I've never raced. Believe me, people have tried for years to get me out there, but I just love what I do off the track — organising and commentating," she said.

Ms Millsteed said the club had about 120 members across Australia, with about 80 racing competitors aged from seven to 70 years old.

She said during the years the association has raised money for community groups, sporting clubs, emergency organisations such as the CFA and SES, and charity groups.

Last year, lawn mower racing enthusiasts raised $5000 for Give Me 5 for Kids at a meeting at KidsTown between Shepparton and Mooroopna. 

Ms Millsteed said at the end of this month, association members would hold a special race meeting at Shepparton District Car Club's track in Mooroopna to raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital.

She said the event was inspired by a local lawn mower racing family whose son was battling serious illness.

"They're a humble, modest family and they want us to donate money raised to the children's hospital so thousands of other people can benefit too," Ms Millsteed said.

Di's son races this mud beast - a stripped back 125cc Honda, minus the blades of course.

Ms Millsteed said although lawn mower racers were a friendly bunch who did not compete for money, once the racing started it was every mower for him or herself.

"Out on the track it gets very competitive — even a bit sheep-stationy at times."

Ms Millsteed said there were four racing classes: juniors, limited to 110cc motors; C-class at 200cc; B-class at 250cc; and A-class capped at 450cc.

She said while racers had been clocked at 110km/h on straights, safety was an important issue and mower blades were removed before racing.

"I don't tolerate any unsafe behaviour, there's no deliberate bumping or contact allowed," she said.

The Royal Children's Hospital fundraising race takes place on August 31, at 25 Little Rd, off Echuca Rd, with practice from 9.30am and racing from 10am until about 3.30pm.

Entry is $5 per person or $25 for a family.

More information about the Australian Ride On Lawn Mower Racing Association is available online at www.arolmra.net