More than a Mower: Racers chase the checkered in Patton

The rumble is tremendous. It can be felt even outside the fence that rings the dirt track at the Patton Saddle Club. It looks like a half-dozen riding lawn mowers lining up, but these machines are stripped down and rebuilt for one purpose: speed. The kind of speed that can get out of hand if you're not careful. Dangerously fast. But come evening every other Saturday throughout the summer, drivers from around Southeast Missouri and beyond suit up to throw open the throttle. Many racers insist that with enough money –ten grand, maybe– and a competent driver, a lawn mower will do highway speeds. Whether that's true or not, the racers who flock to Patton certainly act like that's the goal. Here are a few scenes from a night at the dirt track with some of the fastest mowers around.