MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY. Let's face it. Mowing to lawn, it can be kind of boring - back and forth and back and forth. Some people in Connecticut though are trying to spice it up. They're holding lawn mowing races.
Catie Talarski from member station WNPR reports from Durham, Connecticut, reports.
CATIE TALARSKI: The Mona Lisa; Mr. Mojangels; Geronimo. These are the names of lawnmowers, lawnmowers that race as part of the United States Lawnmower Racing Association. Lawnmower ponds are big with racers. But wait, before you hop on your John Deere and start doing laps around the driveway, there are couple of things you need to know.
Mr. KIRK FREW (United States Lawnmower Racing Association): Rule number one is take the blades off.
TALARSKI: Kirk Frew founded the Connecticut chapter of the U.S. Lawnmower Racing Association.
Mr. FREW: At those kind of speeds a lawnmower blade would shatter, and somebody's going to get severely hurt. So safety is number one.
TALARSKI: Frew is a wiry man. He resembles a biker with his tattoos and piercings. Pacing around three beat-up mowers, he excitedly explains the ins and outs of lawnmower racing to a group of about 15 people, including teenagers, children, middle-aged men, and a surprising number of grandparents.
Mr. FREW: Three thousand dollars later, put a cam, valve works, bench flow to carburetor, lighten the flywheel - that will make the engine go a lot faster.
TALARSKI: Besides his job as an engineer, Frew owns Kirk's Custom Mower Sports. Yes, you heard me: mower sports. It's a new and used lawnmower and go-cart supply shop. Frew talks a lot about the rules of lawnmower racing, and there are lots of rules, like using only pump gas and having a specific width and height of the mower deck.
Mr. FREW: First thing I need to tell everybody is read the rules. Study them. Keep them there in the bathroom with you. Bring them to work. That's your bible now.
TALARSKI: The rules are set up by the U.S. Lawnmower Racing Association, which was established 15 years ago, on April Fool's Day. Now they have more than 500 members nationwide.
John LePoint(ph)and his eight-year-old son Dylan have come to the workshop to learn more about the sport. They just bought a new mower and they're looking for something to do with the old one.
Mr. DYLAN LePOINT: Hey, daddy. Let's take my go-cart motor out my go-cart and put it in the lawnmower.
Mr. JOHN LePOINT: Maybe we'll have to do that. I don't know.
TALARSKI: Racers like Frew take parts from go-carts, golf carts and ATVs to make their machines lighter and faster.
(Soundbite of lawnmower)
TALARSKI: It's time for a demonstration. Frew suits up in a full helmet, neck brace, racing shirt, gloves, and chest protector. He hops on a mower, decorated in flames and skulls.
Mr. FREW: I like to tell people they sound like a little Harleys.
TALARSKI: Machines usually max out at about 40 miles per hour on the track. But Frew has gotten his mower up to 85. He kicks up dust as he speeds around the dirt driveway, then he races down the road a quarter mile. Dylan LePoint's eyes get big and excited. But it looks like grandma is having second thoughts about her grandson's potential new hobby.
(Soundbite of tires screeching)
For NPR New, I'm Catie Talarski.