STA-BIL Celebrates 25th Anniversary with British Lawn Mower Racing Association

By Angeline Robinson

The 2017 STA-BIL St. Mary’s County National Lawn Mower Race Weekend is sure to be a grand memory that will last forever in the hearts and minds  of everyone who attended the July 28-30 weekend.

The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association is out on the road this year celebrating their 25th birthday. One of the stops on the birthday celebration tour was Bowles Farms in Clements, Maryland. This track is hands down one of the favorites among many drivers each year. Many drivers speak of the chicane on the backstretch, while others praise Mr. Tommy Bowles and crew’s excellent track work, and for some it’s the welcoming atmosphere. Either way, Bowles Farms is must do each year for many of our drivers.

We actually started planning for this race two years ago. It was one of those “after the race conversations.” Bruce Kaufman started tossing around the idea of inviting the British Lawn Mower Racers over, they are after all the ones who invented lawn mower racing! The planning and logistics began shortly after Maryland 2015, and landed us in Marylamd hosting the then President and Vice President of the British Lawn Mower Racing Association, Mr. Jim Gavin and Mr. Pete Hammerton. These gentlemen put together a power point slideshow of some of their races, their history, and their organization. It was then that USLMRA and BLMRA together announced to the world that we would be hosting British racers during the 2017 Maryland race.

At the time the USLMRA had planned to ship British mowers here, then fly their racers. As time drew closer, more things started becoming reality. Honestly, it was easier for all, if some of our racers would just loan out their MOWchines. It was eagerly agreed upon by all. US teams were paired with British drivers by random draw. The teams went as follows…

  • Rocket Man Racing / Driver, Stuart Johnson
  • Bobby Cleveland, BC Racing / Driver, Peter Reeves (Pugs)
  • Jason Brown, Party Time Racing / Driver, Glyn Saunders
  • Wally Bender, Iron Man Racing / Driver, Graham Tibbenham
  • Jenn Tibbenham
  • Steve Barber, Indiana Lawn Mower Racing Association / Driver, Richard Davis
  • Robinson / Clabough Families, Robbin Dreams Mowersports / Driver, Simon Campbell
  • Chuck Miller, Miller Lawn and Power – USLMRA Hall  of Fame. / Driver, Ian Tanswell

Mostly everyone was connected via social media, and they were all getting acquainted with one another. Every the was set; All systems were MOW!

Unfortunately, there was rain in the forecast for this weekend. I, for one never looked at the forecast leading up to the event. I knew that I was going, and I was going to have a great time regardless! I also knew that the Bowles farm staff had track conditions under control. I do know that the pending weather kept many competitors away.

Thursday night was the annual Sponsor dinner hosted by Tommy and Tina Bowles, and the 7th District Rescue Squad and Optimist Club. I unfortunately did not make in time… AGAIN! But, I heard it was quite a good time! The teams were all introduced to their British driver’s, and began getting acquainted. I however was still not there!

Friday was race day, also known as RAIN DAY! Or maybe we could call it crab cake day… I had the privilege of accompanying several British friends to the crab cake truck that Bruce so affectionately turned us on to last year, Farrell’s Seafood. I accompanied Mr. Pete Hammerton, Mark Akeroyd, and Jennifer Tibbenham down to the little seafood truck where we purchased over $200 worth of crab cakes. We drove them back to the track, and pass them around with care to all British racers, and a few others who placed an order before we left. They were divine, as usual!

We were able to get a few races in on Friday, but the rain finally set in. In the JP class, Nick Paccione held off sister, Olivia, and Kamren Rice to take the checkers. In the IMOW class, Tina Paccione would take the checkers while holding off Lauren Filos and British racer, Glyn Saunders. Joey Paccione would steal the race in the GPK class and take the checkers. While Randy Gandy would win in the GP class. It was now time for the British GP event, it was raining slightly at the start. By just a few laps in, the rain set in. There was no end in sight. So, the race was paused, then eventually called for the day.  Our crew still had people on the road that were traveling up to make it in to town before the main events were to start. We decided that we would hang out at the track with our newly inducted teammate, Simon, and wait on everyone else to show up. I decided to wonder outside of the trailer during the rain event. I was met with our mowers almost floating in water. As I walked toward our truck, I sank knee deep in the field. It was lots of FUN, though!

Saturday came, we hoped and prayed the weather would hold out, and it did… for a little while. Mr. Tommy and his staff worked hard on getting the racetrack ready, and they did great! The British racers would almost completely sweep the USLMRA v BLMRA main; the top three finishers were all from the BLMRA, Glyn Saunders, Stuart Johnson, and Graham Tibbenham. Wyatt Sullivan would hold off cousin, Joey Paccione in the AP class to take the win. The SP class was a very close race between Mr. Bruce Runyon and Jason Nutbrown, but Mr. Bruce would hold him off to take the checkers. The CP class was a very close race between Tom Ruo, Charles Ford, and Shannon Pate, Tom would bring home the win though. The BP race between Chuck Miller and Derrick Robinson was insane (I hid my eyes, and even walked away at one point), this is the second hard battle between these two this year. Chuck Miller would be victorious in this battle. Jason Brown and Pete Sullivan would put on the show in the FXS class, both on Rocket Man mowers. Jason Brown would hold off Mr. Pete to take the win. In the FXT class, Derrick Robinson would take the win over Scott Sitterly.

In Saturday’s mains, Nick Paccione would take the win again in the JP class, while Mr. Eric Corner would be victorious in the IMOW (with his lucky washer that I gave him in his pocket!), Joey Paccione would take the checkers in the GPK class, Mr. Randy Gandy would bring home the win in the GP class, Stuart Johnson would win the GP British class, with Michael Paccione winning the AP and the SP classes. The CP’s take the track, then the rain comes! They’re slipping, they’re sliding, they’re out of control! The race was called for the night. After several meetings, it was decided that the remainder of classes would be ran on Sunday morning after the banquet. With that said, it was party time! We didn’t get to have our usual “front stretch after party,” because the track was so slick. It turned into a parking lot and pit party. And man, was it FUN!!!

Sunday morning awards came, they were held in the banquet hall by the track. It was really nice, and the food was great! Thank you Mrs. Tina and staff for making sure that we were well taken care of. There were many trophies given, several awards given out, and lots of gifts exchanged with the British. The Rocket Man Racing Team were all inducted into the Hall Of Fame this year. It was an honor to watch them receive this award. It is always such a pleasure racing with all of them, they are all wonderful! Mrs. Kaufman, Bruce’s mom gave a wonderful speech to congratulate Bruce on 25 successful years of lawn mower racing. It was so special to watch. It was a true pleasure to see Bruce’s parents and son, Ari all at Bowles Farm this year.

After the awards, we headed back to the track to complete the last 4 racing classes on the freshly scraped track. Monte McDonald would hold off Shannon Pate in the CP class to take the win on his 25th anniversary USLMRA mower. Derrick Robinson would take the win in the BP and FXT classes. While Drew Clabough would be victorious in the FXS class. After the racing, we handed out the final trophies, and said those pesky “See you soon’s!”

I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to each person who worked tirelessly to make this race happen, to all of the drivers, teams, and families who spent countless hours on the road coming to race and support us, and to each member of the BLMRA who made the journey across the pond! This was a weekend that I will not ever forget, thank you all for helping make that possible. I would also like to extend a huge thanks to the USLMRA, STA-BIL, and the Gold Eagle Co. for making all of this happen!