Written by Angeline Robinson
This trip began way back in September of 2016; a group of our local Carolina guys and gals found ourselves entertaining quite a few Oregon fellows after the 2016 USLMRA Championship race in North Carolina. The conversation started over boots! Not just any old boots, cowboy boots. Those of you that know me, know that I have a pretty wild obsession with cowboy boots! Mr. Randy Marshall turned and looked at me and said “Gal, if you’re gonna wear the boots, you’ve gotta wear the hat too!” I exclaimed that I didn’t have one, and he would need to correct that problem for me. He made a promise to me that if I came to their national event in Oregon, he would have a hat waiting on me! He also offered us all a place to stay when we got there! We promised them that we would be there! It was set in stone, and the planning began!
No matter how much planning I did, nothing seemed to be coming together! Derrick was supposed to be coming with us, as time drew closer, it looked rather bleak! His work allows him very little time these days for fun. I, however had made a promise, and I was keeping it. I decided that I was going to Oklahoma with my kids, and we would leave from there on a cross country adventure that would land us in Wamic, Oregon. Little did I know, I would be dealt yet another curve ball. Derrick and a few great people were back at homing trying to fit weeks worth of work into just a few days, which would enable Derrick to go with us to Oregon. I got the call as I was leaving OK, he said “I THINK that I can have everything done in time to go!” The kids and I hauled it out of Oklahoma, heading back east on Sunday. I arrived home Monday morning in enough time to drop our truck off at the shop for some simple servicing and a minor A/C issue. Wednesday, also known as “go day,” because that was the day we had to leave by; I found myself picking the truck up with half of the A/C still not working, taking it to 4 different mechanics over the course of that day, and none of which were able to fix it in the amount of time we were working with. I shopped plane tickets pretty hard that night, then ultimately decided to rent a truck with unlimited miles. After the deposit was returned, it was cheaper to rent that truck than it was to even fly only myself to Oregon and back!
It was settled, I went to pick the truck up from the airport in Charlotte, NC at 5:00pm on Thursday. I rushed home, loaded bags, kids, and a racing lawn mower into the rented truck, then we four Robinson’s set out on a journey that would take us across America on one of the best journey’s that we have only could’ve ever dreamt of! As I said though, we were leaving home Thursday evening; the race in Wamic, Oregon, a one day, 15 hour drive, was Saturday! This meant that we would be driving straight through…
It was an adventurous ride, with not a lot of sightseeing stops along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we saw some really awesome things along the interstates between here and Oregon, just no fancy tourist stops. I am a night owl, so I drove most of the late night, early morning shifts. That gave me a lot of time to reflect on things, there were many times that I questioned myself on this trip, honestly I thought that we were just insane for doing all that we did to make it happen! I received the clarity that I so needed when we crossed into the state of Oregon at 4:30am Saturday morning, with my daughter Hayleigh as my co-pilot, Derrick and Dylan sleeping pretty soundly in the backseat. We looked to our right as the sun was peeking over the next mountain range, it was beautiful, simply breathtaking; that moment defined it all for me. Had this trip not have happened, I wouldn’t have been able to share all of the simply amazing moments that were about to unfold with my husband and our children.
Now let’s get down to some race track action real quick! We rolled into the tiny town of Wamic, Oregon just before 10:00am, their time on Saturday morning. We stopped at the track, saw and met some awesome racers and families, checked out the track, checked out the view of the mountains around the track, it was awesome! As the day progresses on, more racers and race family rolled in. I must tell you all, it was truly wonderful to be able to have a face to face conversation with so many that I’ve only been able to have a Facebook conversation with until now. It was also pretty awesome seeing this rectangular race track in person, I had only been able to see in pictures and videos. It wasn’t quite as big as I expected, but it was still the largest lawn mower race track we’ve ever been on.
In the kids racing class, Jayd Arearls would take the checkers on day one, while newcomer from Iowa, Claire Enos would take the checkers on day two! In the SP class, Tim Wonderly would take the checkers on Saturday, while Gary Tucker would be victorious on Sunday. On to the CP’s, Owen Grahn would win Saturday’s main, and his teammate Mike Trautman would take the win on Sunday. In the BP class, Mike Trautman would hold off Chriece Washburn to win Saturday’s race: Sunday, Garrett Penland was able to keep Mike Trautman behind him so he could take the checkers in the BP class. Susan Smith was able to take the checkered flag in Saturday nights powder puff class, while Dakota Wonderly would be victorious on Sunday in that class. Mike Enos from Iowa would score first place points for both days in the FXS class. While Josh Woelke would rack up 2 wins in the FXT class. Way to MOW everyone!!!
Meanwhile, these guys from Carolina were plagued with problem after problem all weekend. Justin Parker shipped his mower to Oregon, and he flew in. We of course drove Derrick’s in, in the bed of our rented truck! LOL Both mowers seemed to be having clear and evident problems of adjusting in their new environments, but both made the first heat race, and finished. The second heat race, Justin’s rocker pulled his head apart, it was done, for the night at least. Garrett Penland offered up his C/P mower for Parker to drive the rest of the day! Derricks rocker just stripped the bolt out of his head. Everyone rallied to help us make the main, Randy Marshall, Mike Enos, Garrett Penland, Gabe Garrison, and even the wonderful man that went down to the hardware store twice for us a heli coil kit! So, Derrick makes the main, takes the green flag, his steering broke! “Just our luck”, I thought, then I laughed! After the race, we were starving, so I went down to Mr. Randy’s house, fed the kids, then went back to the shop. Everyone was in the shop working on Derrick and Parker’s mowers! It was awesome seeing everyone rally to get them to the race on Sunday! Sunday came, heat 1: Parker and Derrick alike broke! Parker’s was catastrophic at this point, and Derricks rocker stripped out again. Derrick and I along with others, and with the help of Mike Enos’ tools, changed heads on his mower so that he could make the 2nd heat! He made it, and the mower finally held together! It made through the main and the open race after the races too! Poor Parker’s luck didn’t change much, he even blew up Garrett’s borrowed mower! It was a pretty tough weekend of racing, but everyone rallied with us, and we couldn’t be more appreciative!
The Sunday after race trophy ceremony was wonderful! They have such a wonderful, tight knit race family up there. Their “local” racers drive up to 10 hours one way just race mowers. But, after being around all of them, it’s not just to race mowers, it’s also to have a race-family reunion! However, there was one gigantic void that could be felt throughout the weekend, that was the very clear absence of Mr. Bob Newman. I prayed that he would be well enough after his lung transplants for me to visit him while I was on the west coast, unfortunately he was not. We all were able to signed cards and send lots of well wishes back for him, though.
I would like to thank each and every person in Wamic, Oregon on behalf of myself and my family for welcoming all of us into your hearts, homes, and families! I’m so honored to have extended my race family over 2700+ miles! We all are very excited to do this again with “y’all” next year!!!
I would also like to thank Kerry Evans for talking this place and these people up to me so much for the past few years, Bruce Kaufman for making the whole thing possible, USLMRA for allowing me these awesome blog spots, and to Sta-Bil and the Gold Eagle Company for being such wonderful sponsors to lawn mower racing!
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