A Note From USLMRA President Bruce “Mr. MowItAll” Kaufman
Each race in this year’s STA-BIL National Lawn Mower Racing Series will be covered by one of our own members, a designated “Pit Reporter” who’ll report back on the weekend’s happenings, the racing action, and mow!
The first race in our 2015 Season, the 2nd Annual STA-BIL Snowbird Nationals at the Avon Park MowerPlex in Florida, were covered by Angeline Hartness Robinson. Enjoy!
Wow O’ Wow what a weekend of action packed, hold-on-to-your-seats kind of racing!!! There were around 80 lawn mowers that registered to race down in sunny Florida the March 13 -1 4 weekend for the 2nd Annual STA-BIL Snow Bird Nationals at the Avon Park Mower Plex in Avon Park, Florida.
Friday, the stands were full with several hundred spectators, but Saturday they came in droves. They packed vehicles around the track, not a single sitting spot was available. The crowd was huge! The weather was beautiful. Friday, it was around 80 degrees with a little cloud coverage and a nice breeze. Saturday was a little warmer, with no breeze. Of course the afternoons had an impending threat of thunderstorms, but it’s Florida! The weather held off nicely and the drivers were able to give us 2 days of awesome racing!
Mower racers, crews and staff came in from across the country to participate in this event, including Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, New Jersey, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. There were many locals from Florida as well! All of the Mowchines looked awesome! Many were new, and lots were newly redone. Many racers made class changes this year too. It’s always great seeing the drivers feeling comfortable enough with their previous class to take that next leap up to a faster class of racing. All of the new female drivers that we saw this weekend were amazing… Look out guys; it looks like you may have some extremely tough competition coming through. These ladies have decided that they will be cheerleaders no more, and it is truly spectacular! There were many new faces this weekend as well, we look forward to seeing you all at other national events across the country. Also in attendance were some of our star-studded staff. Kerry Evans, Richard Webb, and Bobby Cleveland were all there representing the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association.
We even had a very special guest: Lee Leiberenz from Illinois who is a 1992 USLMRA Charter Member and was an active racer from 1992-1998!
I’d like to tell you a truly Mowtivating story that began in Charlotte, NC at last years National race and ended in Avon Park, FL this past weekend. Many of you know that Dawn Filos had a wreck last year in Charlotte, flipping her SP mower. As it turned out after that accident Mr. Tommy “Gun” Flynn decided that he didn’t want to see Dawn seriously injured, so he told her dad Lou that he would make sure she had a safer mower. So with the help of Mr. Rodney Peeler and family, they began the build process of Dawn’s new mower. Dawn knew that she had this mower coming, but was told that it wouldn’t be ready by Florida. Dawn was told by her friends that it may not even be ready by Charlotte this year. Man, was Dawn in for a huge surprise! They came across the loud speakers calling all parties involved to the pits and presented Dawn with her brand new FX-S mower! There were a few tears involved and lots of thank yous too! Dawn had two very solid finishes this weekend on her brand new mower, 7th place on Friday and 6th place on Saturday! Way to mow Dawn and friends!
Now, let’s get down to racing… Friday evening was off to a great start, practice went well and the heat races did too. In the J/P class Jordan Brown took the win, narrowly beating out Nicholas Paccione. In the IMow class, husband and wife Mike & Tina Paccione were battling for the number one spot. Tina was leading and was held up trying to get around lapped traffic, giving Mike an opportunity to take the lead for the win! In the FX-S class, now this was the Wes Pyburn show! He started in the pole position and never looked back! He lapped all but 5 mowers in this 20 lap main and went on to take the win! Now for Friday’s grand finale… The F/X-T class! Teammates William “Derrick” Robinson and Andy Clabough started on the front row with Wes Pyburn right behind them. Robinson led just about the entire race with Pyburn on his bumper the entire time, until lap 19, turn 4! Wes made his move, and man was it a huge one! Pyburn passed Robinson right before the checkered flag fell and took the win by .200 of a second! The whole crowd went wild! There were congratulations all around to all of the drivers from each other and from the other teams! This was a showstopper, and it was a fantastic way to end an amazing day of racing!
Before I start Saturday’s highlights I’m going to let you all who have never been in a National race before in on a little secret. Just because these racers race the same locations two days in a row, doesn’t mean that they race the same exact track each day. There are a lot of variables involved. Weather, time, water, grading, etc. With that being said, the track Saturday was totally different than Friday.
Now, on to Saturday’s racing… We would like to give a shout out to Ron Shaffer, who is hearing impaired and drives the 88R in the IMow class for an awesome 2nd place finish behind the winner, Mike Paccione. In the A/P class, Wyatt Sullivan and Wally Bender put on the showstopper this day! Bender and Sullivan traded positions for a good part of the race, when Sullivan on his new A/P was able get under Bender and go for the win. Again, the crowd went wild! The B/P class is crazy fast this year, it will be one to watch for some of the toughest competition! Rex Crouch Jr. Took off like a rocket and never looked back, he was able to lap all but the top 4 mowers in this class and go on for the win for the second day in a row! Back to the F/X-T class, the entire crowd thought that we were in for the same treat of hold on to your seats racing that we had witnessed Friday. This was not the case; this race was anybody’s to win. Jayson Mikula was off to a strong start in the lead position; he went a little high, which allowed Robinson and Clabough enough room to get under him. The two teammates took off and were able to hold off the other competition, they finished the race with Derrick Robinson in 1st, Andy Clabough in 2nd, Jayson Mikula was 3rd, followed by Wes Pyburn in 4th, and our very own Hall of Famer Mr. Bobby Cleveland in 5th. Way to mow ladies and gentlemen!
It was a great weekend of lawn mower racing for all! We hope to do it again in just a few short weeks at Charlotte Mow-tor Speedway! We would like to say a special thank you to Mr. Wes Pyburn, Christine Smith, announcer Doc Kuhfeldt and the NASGRASS crew, along with the S&S crew for hosting this event and providing our racers with a top-notch facility and track.
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