Flat Out

Nestled in the countryside of West Sussex, the village of Wisborough Green is the home of British Lawn Mower Racing. To celebrate the British Lawn Mower Racing Association turning fifty years old, the organisers planned an endurance race through the night.

The claxon went for the Le Mans-style running start at seven p.m. The drivers mounted their mowers and raced flat out around the straw bale track. With three people making up each team, they swapped out the rider each time they ran out of fuel. As the sun went down, the clatter of mower engines continued into the night—the first team to 500 laps to be crowned the winners the following morning.

I was chatting to a girl cueing to buy a pizza, “My boyfriend did it last year. He was pissing blood for two weeks after the race.”

Across the track from the spectators, the pit lane was lined with tents, tools and crews of supporters. Each team had brought all kinds of bits from home to bring an element of comfort to the lengthy night. Mechanics perched eagerly on camping chairs while families kept busy and kids ran around playing. 

The maintenance was relentless as the night went on, from tweaks and refuelling to welding snapped axles. The pit lane became a monster energy-fuelled cross between Motorcross and Robot Wars. Above, one team are in the middle of rebuilding their entire engine.

After some broken sleep in my van, I woke up to the same drone of the four-stroke engines wailing around in the darkness. Walking the pit lane under the neon wash from homemade lights resembled a party beach in Thailand. People were sleeping where they could, spirits were high, and dawn was in sight.

Everything you would come to expect with motor racing is turned on its head with lawnmowers. The glitz and glamour are replaced with dirty fingernails and a total lack of egos. If you want to witness an entirely unique sport with a great bunch of people, I would thoroughly recommend it.