Club draws fans to Fremont
By Angie Landsverk
A new lawnmower racing club has a home in Fremont.
The 920 Lawnmower Racing Club races every other Saturday on a dirt track behind Angler’s Bar & Grill.
“We have a little over 15 acres, so we have room. I have racing in my background. I raced stock cars in Kaukauna a long time ago,” said Mike Poole. “It gives people a chance to bring their 12-year-old son out here to have a hotdog and a soda and then watch.”
Poole owns Angler’s, which is located at N700 County Trunk H.
The first races took place there on June 2, and the next ones are on Aug. 11.
They plan to hold races into the first weekend of October.
On race days, the pits open at 10 a.m.
“We register everyone, have a little practice. Everyone gets checked for safety gear. We figure out where everyone will be for heats,” said Todd Nelson.
Racing begins around 1 p.m.
People watch the races for free, often bringing lawnchairs for seating behind the fence.
Food and refreshments are available.
The club has a Facebook page and directs people to go there for information if the weather is questionable on a race day.
Nelson lives in New London and helped start the club.
“I started racing when I was 16, and I’m 47,” he said. “I took off a few years for kids. I had been researching it quite a while before I talked my friends into it.”
Like Poole, Nelson once raced cars.
“It’s too expensive to race big cars,” he said. “You can get in (lawnmower racing) for $500 to $600.”
He races in the modified class and started working on his lawnmower last January, getting it ready to race in June.
Nelson became involved in lawnmower racing a couple years ago, in Kaukauna.
“The bar got sold,” he said. “All of us that drove lawnmowers started looking.”
That is because the new owner of the business was not interested in continuing the races.
“I saw the big field behind Angler’s,” Nelson said.
He talked to Poole about the idea last winter.
“We moved pretty quick,” Nelson said. “First, we had to join the organization.”
The organization he referred to is the American Racing Mower Association.
The 920 Lawnmower Racing Club is a chapter of it and is drawing racers from Green Bay, Wrightstown, Appleton, Greenville, New London and Wisconsin Rapids.
They typically race two classes: stock and modified.
“The stocks go in the high 20s (mph) and the modifieds in the high 30s,” Nelson said.
They race on a one-tenth mile track, built by members of the club.
Racers pay $10, which goes toward the cost of the club’s insurance.
The blades are off these lawnmowers.
“Most of the modifications are for safety reasons,” Poole said.
Nelson said the modified lawnmowers are almost like go-carts.
The club plans to host a clinic to show people how to build them, and also wants to have one over the winter for youth interested in getting involved.
Lawnmowers in that class go 8 mph.
“It’s growing every race,” Poole said of the local club.
There were about 10 new racers on Saturday, July 28.
“We’re getting more and more people,” said Bill Carrington, of Neenah.
This is his first year participating in it, and last Saturday marked his fifth race.
He got involved after helping a friend build one.
Carrington found a used lawnmower on Buy, Sell, Trade.
“I started cutting it down and rebuilding it,” he said. “I have about $400 in it.”
He races in the stock class now and plans to build a bigger one for the modified class.
Seventy-one is the number on his car.
“That’s how old I am,” Carrington said. “You’re never too old to get out and have fun.”
He is meeting people from throughout the area and said everyone has their own ideas about how to build them.
Nelson said he likes building lawnmowers for racing.
“There’s a lot of science in the modified,” he said. “I’m also having a lot of fun promoting it.”
He said lawnmower racing is popular in the southeastern part of the United States.
The club wants to get youth involved to “make it more of a family thing,” he said.
Poole said the club is likely the only one in the state with its own track.
Other groups get hired to put on events at a fairgrounds or tractor pull, he said.
“Here we are trying to build on that we have a track where it is the same very week,” Poole said. “That is why we think it could grow over the coming years.”
As word gets out about the club’s track in Fremont, he expects more people to become part of it.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” Poole said. “This isn’t something to see how it works and just do it this year. We’re already talking about next year.”
The club is also hosting the Badger State Shoot Out on Saturday, Aug. 25.
On that day, the pits open at 1 p.m., and racing begins at 4 p.m.
“It’s all for fun,” Nelson says of lawnmower racing. “It’s all for bragging rights.”