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“Gentlemen, start your … lawn mowers!”
Someone surely said that in 1977 when a field of 33 lawn mowers hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a media race during the quiet week between qualifying and the 61st Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
As a promotional stunt, South Bend, Indiana-based Wheel Horse Co. brought a fleet of mowers to IMS and invited area media to drive in a one-lap race. What a spectacle!
In true racing fashion, some tinkering with the mowers took place. As seen in the picture below, the hoods of the Wheel Horse mowers opened toward the front, allowing for some in-race wrenching to coax more power from the engines. In another year of this stunt, the late broadcaster Gary Lee added larger rear wheels to his mower for a more aggressive, speedy stance. He won.
So if you’ve ever jumped on your riding lawn mower and pretended for a moment that you were driving in the Indy 500, here’s the closest thing.