Ready, set, mow - Racing mowers arrive on local soil

Friday, May 17, 2002

Bruce Kaufman doesn't expect you to take racing lawn mowers too seriously. Even his U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association's news releases note that a sense of humor "is not required, but strongly encouraged."

But one day of watching a field of 60 mowers zoom around SEMO Speedway at 60 mph, he says, and you'll be hooked.

"We want to have fun with it, but you go to an event and you'll see these racers take it seriously," said Kaufman, the group's president -- "Mr. Mow-It-All," he says -- whose traveling series stops at the one-fifth-mile dirt track north of Sikeston, Mo., for an event -- a racing mow-ment, you might call it -- at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The mowers that will compete in Saturday's STA-BIL event look like standard riding mowers, although the blades are removed and the mowers of the series' top racers carry names and logos of sponsors. The 12-page rule book allows for engines to be modified.

Kaufman said entries are expected from many of the series faithful from as far away as Florida, Texas and Michigan. They'll race for trophies and bragging rights, not for money.

Local entries are encouraged for entry-level classes. For info, contact track manager Jerry Wolsey (332-0707, 382-2423).

And why not? As Kaufman says, the mow the merrier.

A new track on the way

There could be another local contender by the end of the summer in the battle for dirt-track racing fans.

Jennifer Adamson said this week that she and her husband, late model racer Keith Adamson of Poplar Bluff, Mo., plan to start work soon on a dirt oval track east of Poplar Bluff. She said a couple of sites are being considered for the track, both between 40 and 60 acres. The track could be operating later this year, she said.

Many details haven't been worked out, but Adamson said the track's size will be comparable to the quarter-mile Malden (Mo.) Speedway.

"We're not sure exactly what classes we'll run, but we know we'll have late models," she said. "Unless you go to St. Louis or down into Arkansas, there aren't any tracks in this area that run late models on Saturday nights."

She said the track's weekly program will be on Saturdays.

Repeating at ATPR

A week after winning for the first time in the sprint division, Daron Clayton of Sikeston did it again Saturday at Auto Tire and Parts Racepark near Benton. Clayton started deep in the 17-car field and took over from leader Ernie Ainsworth on the 18th lap. Robbie Standridge of Springfield, Ill., was second and Ainsworth -- one of seven cars in the field using a 360 cubic inch engine to compete with the standard 410 c.i. engine -- finished third.

Cline Myers Jr. of Scott City, Mo., is 3-for-3 this season in the pure stock class; Jeremy Conner of Essex won for the first time in modifieds.

A record weekend

Credit Ken Schrader or the good weather. Whatever the reason, Malden Speedway set a track record with 140 entries in its five classes Friday.

Schrader, the NASCAR Winston Cup veteran on hand to compete with the touring Mid-America Racing Series late model group, finished 20th in the 40-lap feature race. The event attracted 31 entries, and the modified program was the biggest draw among five classes with 40 entries.

Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., won the event.

In modifieds, Claudie Cook of Portageville, Mo., led a tough crowd. Locally, Greg King of Sikeston was sixth and Larry Hull of Old Appleton, Mo., ninth. Dietrich Bollinger of Benton, Mo., was second and Nathan Rettig of Sikeston third behind Jared Wagster in pure streets.

Elsewhere

  • Today's scheduled event on the Stadia-Cross series at ATPR for quads and bikes has been called off because of rain. The next event is June 14.

    Brett Kreke, 19, of O'Fallon, Ill., won Wednesday's Spring Spectacular for late models at Fredericktown (Mo.) Raceway in only his 15th start. Jeff Lebaube swept the modified division.

    Joey Mack of Benton is second in the rookie of the year race on the MARS tour. He slipped behind Dewaine Hottinger of Russellville, Ark., 364-348 after weekend events at Malden and Little Rock, Ark.

    Joey Montgomery of Fredericktown won Saturday's 17-car sprint feature at Saint Francois County Raceway near Farmington, Mo. His brother, Tim, was second.

    Les Riley of Benton, Ky., won for the second straight week in the micro sprint class Saturday at SEMO Speedway . Ron Wick won in the dwarf class; Jathan Cruse won in mini stocks.

    Competitors at I-55 Raceway near Pevely, Mo., are looking for a place to race Saturday -- the entry road to the track is under several feet of water because of flooding to the nearby Mississippi River. The track also had to cancel last week's program because of flooding.

    Coming up

  • Schrader is among the entries expected to compete for $12,000 to win Sunday on the 1-mile oval track at DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds in a late model event. Modifieds will race for $2,000 to win.

    SEMO Speedway has three days of racing lined up for Memorial Weekend, starting with ATVs and motorcycles May 24. Karts return May 25, followed by micro sprints May 26.

    Malden Speedway will likely cancel its schedule monthly sprint event May 24. SFCR has a special event scheduled the same night for that division.

    Jamie Hall is sports editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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