These mowers don't cut, they cruise

Posted Online: May 04, 2008, 6:22 pm
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By Brandy Donaldson ,

In his own words, Russ Wailand's lawnmowers "don't go putt-putt, they go vroom-vroom." His mowers don't clip, crop or cut either. They can, however, race and can clear a lap or two in the time it takes a typical mower to roll out of the garage.

"Some people might not understand the concept of using lawnmowers to race," racer Matt Golding of Moline said. "They kind of laugh at you when you talk about it. But when you modify them, a machine that typically goes around 5 mph becomes something else entirely."

Indeed. Racing mowers reach speeds up to 70 mph.

Lawnmower racing has caught on in the Quad-Cities, moving Mr. Wailand and others to work to expand the sport's local presence.

Mr. Golding and his 15-year-old son Jason discovered mower racing a couple months ago and recently started racing together as father-son bonding time.

"This is something my son is interested in that we can do together," the single father of three boys said. "And with a teenager, you just don't get that chance very often."

The Goldings just purchased their own mower and are modifying it together, with Jason taking the mechanical lead.

"I was 15 once and I know there's a lot worse things he can be doing with his time right now," Matt Golding said. "I think it's great for my son. He's learning mechanics and how to work on small engines. He may even turn this into a trade one day."

Lawnmower racing is a perfect fit for him, Jason Golding said.

"As a kid, I never really got into sports at school. So this is my sport," he said. "And every kid's dream is to drive. I'm not old enough to drive a car yet, so I'm going smaller."

Organized mower racing began locally a few years ago at B&S Raceway in East Moline. Mr. Wailand recently fashioned a larger track in Milan just off Main Street near the Route 67 bridge on land donated by Joe Proctor behind Orby's Sales and Service. He wants to bring lawnmower racing to Milan.

"I thought this would be a good way to bring some more fun and entertainment to the village," Mr. Wailand said. "This is a nice little sport and a cheap hobby for friends, neighbors and young people to get involved in."

The races operate by American Racing Mowers Association standards. Racers aren't paid, even if they win, so there's no financial gain involved, only fun and the thrill of friendly competition, Mr. Wailand said. Patrons would be charged a nominal fee. Half the revenue would go to maintain the track. Half would be donated to the Milan Fire Department for first responders.

The track might also draw racers from other regions, which would mean potential economic opportunities for Milan, especially the businesses surrounding the track, Mr. Weiland said. He has approached village officials with his proposal and currently is pursuing permits.

Anyone interested in Mr. Wailand's track or potential sponsors can contact him at (309) 631-7533.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Everybody is invited to go on a moonlight excursion next Monday evening on the steamer New Boston. The trip will be from Davenport to Muscatine and back.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The mayor and bridge committee let a contract to the Clinton Bridge company for a $1,125 iron bridge across Sears canal near Milan.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Injunction proceedings to compel the Central Association to keep a baseball team in Rock Island for the remainder of the season were contemplated by some of the Rock Island fans, but they decided to defer action.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The first of the new and more powerful diesel engines built for the Rock Island Lines for the proposed Chicago-Denver run, passed thru the Tri-Cities this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island Rescue Mission is negotiating for the purchase of the Prince Hall Masonic Home located at 37th Avenue and 5th Street, Rock Island.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Quad Cities Container Terminal is being lauded as a giant business boon that will save several days and hundreds of dollars on each goods shipment to the coasts. The Quad Cities Container Terminal is the final piece of the puzzle that opens up increase access to world markets, Robert Goldstein said.

(More History)