AVON PARK - With the crowds getting steadily larger and new drivers entering the fray, the North American Society of Grass Racers And Sod Slingers (NASGRASS) held its third race of the season at the Avon Park Mower Plex last Saturday.
In the International Mower of Weeds class, Frankie Lane came into the weekend with a 10-point lead over Richie Pippen. Pippen started the night poised to reclaim the top spot when he won the heat race, but he was disqualified in the main race.
The disqualification moved Lane into the winner's circle and has given him an 80-point buffer over Justin Cagel, who moved into second place in season points.
Meanwhile, Buddy Pippen moved into third for season points with a second-place finish in Saturday's main race event. Richie Pippen dropped to fourth place in season points after his disqualification.
In the Grand Prix races, Pat Sullivan moved into first place in the season points standings with a second-place finish in the heat race and a win in the feature race. Sean Kennedy, points leader after the first week, dropped to fourth place after two consecutive disappointing finishes.
Wes Pyburn was the points leader and increased his lead with a win in the heat race, but was disqualified in the feature and now finds himself in second place trailing the leader by 90 points.
Kennedy would also lose his points lead in the Open Single Class. Sporting a 70-point lead over second-place David Curtis, Kennedy won the heat, but was disqualified in the next race, allowing Bruce Runyon to jump two positions into the points lead. Runyon finished second in the heat and won the feature.
In the GP Twin Class, crowd favorite Sam Miller jumped two positions into second place with a third-place finish in the heat and won the feature race. Miller, who drives a lawn mower that looks like Lightning McQueen from the "Cars" movies, trails his son, Jeremy, in the points standings.
Sam and Jeremy Miller, who live and race in Fort Myers, are starting their fourth year in lawn mower racing and credit Kennedy for getting them involved. Sam Miller is also the 2011 Seniors Champion in the Seniors division of Grasscar in Fort Myers.
"We all get along great out here," said the elder Miller. "Once in a while there will be a ruffled feather, and some got ruffled tonight, but it will all wash under the bridge and be gone."
In the Open Twin Class, Pyburn increased his point lead with wins in both the heat and feature races for the third consecutive time. He has never lost a race.
Hanging close with second-place finishes is Cagle, who trails Pyburn by just 95 points.
With a 150 points up for grab at every race, all racers are in contention with seven races left in the season.
Sam Miller said that it has been great to see the steady increase in the popularity of lawn mower racing over the past three years.
Even with the long drive between Fort Myers and Avon Park, Sam Miller said that he doesn't mind it, and added that he has traveled to Georgia, the Carolinas and Alabama to race. He competes about six times a month.
Sam Miller spent his down time at the race talking to the youngsters, signed autographs and even gave away his first-place trophy, noting that he has a whole room of them at home and it makes a couple of kids leave happy.
Though the Millers race fast mowers and are working on a lawn mower that will sport a 100-horsepower V-twin lawn mower engine, he said the sport is easy to get involved with.
"Just find an old riding lawn mower that nobody is using anymore," Sam Miller said. "Get it running and put it in the IMOW class. They are basically a stock lawn mower with some height requirements and gear ratios. Down in Fort Myers they have regular Peer riding lawn mower that they take the blades off and then allow the kids to race to get them involved."
The next race, the season's Holiday Spectacular at the Avon Park Mower Plex, is Dec. 14.