#TBT: The Greatest Spectacle in Lawn Mower Racing

Published On November 19, 2015 » 3688 Views» By John Schwarb » #TBT, Blogs, IMS, IMS History, Indy 500

For more trips down Memory Lane, visit the #TBT archives here.

A field of, yes, lawn mowers roars out of Turn 1 in 1977.

A field of, yes, lawn mowers roars out of Turn 1 in 1977.

“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.

A little in-race tinkering could add power to the Wheel Horse mowers.

A little in-race tinkering could add power to the Wheel Horse mowers.

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About The Author

John Schwarb

I joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway communications team in July 2014 and love sharing stories from the World Capital of Racing, particularly its rich history. Most of my professional career has been in racing or golf, so if I'm not in the IMS media center, the office at 16th and Georgetown or milling around Gasoline Alley, maybe I'll be standing over a birdie putt at Brickyard Crossing. Follow us at @IMS or drop me a line at @JohnSchwarb and come back to the blog often for more stories.
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