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!
This season’s race in Gun Barrel City, Texas was covered by our Pit Reporter Angeline Robinson.
The 25th Annual STA-BIL 360 Performance Finals and the 2016 USLMRA Award’s Banquet were wonderful! The race was held at the home track of the Carolina Mower Racing Association at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, NC. The Award’s Banquet this year was once again held at the beautiful, Smith Tower at Charlotte Motor Speedway. There were racers from the north and the south, and from the east coast and the west coast that came to town this year! There were also quite a few special guests in attendance; Marc Blackman: Gold Eagle CEO, Steve Benton and the Charlotte Motor Speedway track crew, Gaston County Commissioner: Joe Carpenter, Mike Applegate and the Gaston County Chamber of Commerce team, and Alan Elder STA-BIL representative and flag man. The families of our own Kerry Evans and Manny Torres were also in attendance, this was a real pleasure. It was a truly spectacular show!
Friday most of our racers and staff rolled in to town. We were having our annual cookout at the track that night; this isn’t just any ordinary cookout, this is a pretty big deal! Our own USLMRA Vice President, Kerry Evans does an amazing low country boil every year! This year though, he brought a special treat, bacon wrapped shrimp! Those things were like heaven in my mouth! Needless to say, if you weren’t there, you missed out! Friday night was great; we had hugs, fellowship, and a few long awaited introductions.
Most of us at the track knew each other pretty well, as we have raced along side each other all year. There were a few newcomers in the lot on Friday, though. See, USLMRA had four national points races out on the West Coast. Since USLMRA takes your top four finishes throughout the year, there were quite a few West Coast people that made up the top 10 points contenders of each racing class. Mr. Randy Marshall of Wamic, Oregon owns several racing mowers. He decided since a couple of his racers were up near the top in points standings, he would ship their mowers to NC, and they all would fly in. Little did any of us know, this would begin even more lifelong friendships! We had an absolute blast with the Oregon crew, Mr. Randy Marshall, Josh Woelke, Garrett Penland, Anthony Lewis, and Aaron Bany. Thank you guys for making the trip, we can’t wait to see you all again!
Saturday, we raced! We started things off with our traditional mower racing ceremonies; the famous mower parade, followed by Gaston County Commissioner Joe Carpenter giving an official proclamation, the National Anthem was sang by racer Bonnie Whetstine, local kids and Mr. MOW it All announced to the racers to start their lawn mowers, and Marc Blackman waved the green flag to start the race! Then, it was race time!
The racing in each class was nothing short of amazing! It was good, clean racing amongst the best racers in each class! It came down to this last race to determine the points champions for many racing classes.
In the JP class, Joey Paccione edged out brother Nick for the race win and the JP points championship. In the I-Mow class, Mike Paccione took home the win and the points championship. In the GPK class, Wyatt Sullivan took the checkers, but it wasn’t quite enough to take the points championship away from Drew Clabough. In the GP class, Andy ClayMOW (Clabough) took the win and the points championship. In the AP class, Wyatt Sullivan drove his mower straight to victory, but it was his uncle, Mike Paccione who won points championship. In the SP class, Charles Ford took the win, but couldn’t compete with Mike Paccione for the points championship. In the CP class, Charles Ford took the win here, too, but Bruce Runyon took home the points championship trophy. In the BP class, Chuck Miller would drive straight to the checkers, and right into the BP points championship!
In the FXS class, Wyatt Sullivan wheeled around the entire pack straight to victory, but it was Jason Murray who would secure the points championship for the year. In the FXT class, Derrick Robinson pulled away from the pack in lap one, and never looked back; he would go on to win the race, and the points championship again.
Of special note is that both Wyatt Sullivan and Mike Paccione each won National Championships in THREE DIFFERENT CLASSES! Way to MOW!
Breakfast and awards at Smith Tower on Sunday morning was great! There were many well-deserved special awards given this year.
- President’s Award: Larry Benning, KS
- STA-BIL Sponsor’s Choice Award: Justin Parker and myself, Angeline Robinson, SC
- Rookie of the Year – JP: Cavin Turner, FL
- Rookie of the Year – Adult: Tommy Hartness, SC
- Golden Blade Award: NasGrass, FL
- Most Improved Driver: Wyatt Sullivan, NC
- George Herrin Innovation Award: George Herrin / Stacey Herrin, TN
- Jackie Andrews Tribute: Dawn Filos, MD
- Dave Hertel MOWtivation Award: Michael Howell, Mr. MOWyagi, TX
- Mace Mullins Crew Chief Award: Tony Thompson, IL
- Dubba G Everyman Award: Randy Marshall, OR
- Charles Powell, Mr. MOWjangles Award: Bruce Kaufman, IL
- Driver of the Year: Michael Paccione, NJ
2016 Hall of Fame Inductees
- Manny Torres, MD
- Kerry Evans, AL
Thank you to the United States Lawn Mower Racing Association for such a fantastic year of racing. Thank you to STA-BIL, Gold Eagle, K&N Air Filters, Gaston County Travel and Tourism, Carolina Mower Racing Association, and Charlotte Motor Speedway for making this race weekend possible! Thank you to Rated Red for coming out to shoot some fun segments during the race. And a huge thank you to all of you; the racers, the families, and the fans for supporting us year after year!
Until next year, keep the rubber side down!
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