Trucking (and Tractoring) With Twisty - More Dirt, Less Asphalt by Mike Twist
I'm Getting a Hang of This Mower Racing Thing, But Can't Make My Racetruck Turn
I haven’t raced the Truck since my last column, but I sure have been having some fun lawn mower racing.
That is despite the fact that so far, I have failed to qualify for a single feature race at the Pathfinder Snowmobile Club’s lawnmower races in North Saco, Maine. I’ve attempted to rack the 12-mower starting field twice. On the first week, I missed out on most of practice after having my throttle hang open – not a fun experience. Still, I was decent in the heat race and consi, but luckless when it came to the draw.
What I didn’t know at the time was that the impact sheared a pin off my left rear wheel. I lost that while trying to get back to a transfer spot and lost three laps in the pits fixing it. That was the end of my night.
My #51 Pulffybilt/SP2 Mowersports/51 Designs Murray was sure fun to drive though. Even with only 11 horsepower, the little thing flies. It is actually a handful to turn or maneuver. Imagine a four wheeler that is much tippier and you’ll get the idea.
That's me - wheeling the #51 lawn tractor in practice. (Scott Poulin / pluffybilt.com Photo)
For the heat race, I drew 19 of 19 competitors – which meant that I had to start at the tail of my heat, where only three tractors qualified. I advanced to fourth, but could not catch Mike Rowe crew member Buster Bean, who snagged the final transfer spot.
We redrew for the consi and my luck was equally bad. I drew last again. This time, I got to fifth at the flag. But only the top three qualified. I was going home early.
My Michael Waltrip-like performance in the next race was a little more exciting, but had the same results. This time, I drew the outside pole for my heat race, but got turned around in the first corner. Unfortunately, the impact rolled my tire off its rim and laps were lost while making repairs.
In the consi, I started on the second row and was hoping to truck on into the feature race. That was until I tried to bypass a pair of spun tractors under caution. One rolled backwards and caught my left rear corner. That sent me into a spin and then a flip. I was a little cut up, but the tractor still ran fine so I continued on at the rear of the field without losing a lap.
This mower racing thing is catching on with the fans too - there have been 150, 200 and even more spectators every week including some familar racing faces spotted in the crowd - like Mike Rowe, Larry Gelinas, Alan Tardiff and Andy Seuss.
So I’m 0-2 when it comes to getting into a tractor race. Geez, it’s like trying to qualify for the Oxford 250. I’ll have my next shot on Friday at the North Saco dirt oval. For more information on the races, visit www.pluffybilt.com.
There hasn’t been much Truck racing for me lately. I’ve actually taken the last two races at Beech Ridge off because the truck just hasn’t been handling well this season. I’ve worked on the rear end and I’ve worked on the front end. It still won’t go around a corner too well. I’m no Howie Lettow either, so figuring out how to set it up correctly is going to take some time. It's a good truck too - I finished second in a race at Oxford last season with it, but for right now the set-up just isn't there for Beech Ridge.
Earlier this season, Eddie MacDonald told me that his car needed a time-out when it developed some problems in a Late Model race at Oxford Plains Speedway. So you can think of my truck being grounded for its bad behavior this year.
The mower races at Saco have had a pit full of entries every week. (51 Photo)
I might be back in action at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) next Wednesday night. There have been a few more changes that I’ve made, so I might get to try them out. Then again, I might give it up and concentrate on making lawnmower go fast. Did I mention that my truck is for sale if anyone wants to give it a good home?
I will get my fix of full-sized auto racing this week though in the Media Madness event on Thursday night at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. The track has set up an event with TV, radio, print and internet journalists to try their skills at racing Junkyard Warrior machines. I’ve never raced at T-Road before and I can’t wait to try it out. Rumor is, I’ll have to start in the back for being a ringer. I wonder if they know that I’ve finished as the last competitor running in all three of my truck races this year and I can’t even qualify for a lawnmower racing feature.
That is why I write about racing, and try not to take my own “driving” career too seriously. But even with the struggles, it’s still a ton of fun (although it would be a lot more fun to pass someone once in a while!)
They say that any race where you can drive onto the trailer at the end of the night isn't bad. well, that is about all that I can be happy about in my Truck racing experiences this year. (51 Photo)