BRUSHTON — Spectators and racers from across the North Country gathered Saturday at Brushton-Moira American Legion Post 939 for the fourth set of lawnmower races of the season, and Roy Richards, commander of the legion, said bringing the races to Brushton has been a mutually beneficial arrangement for his organization, as well as the Northern New York Lawn Mower Racing Association.
The event, Richards said, serves as a small fundraiser for the legion, and he hopes to expand in the coming years to better accommodate a growing motorsport. The races themselves are organized by the NNYMLR, and they originally approached the legion to explore the possibility of a track over four years ago.
“They came to us about four years ago and asked if we’d be interested in building a track for them to race on,” Richards said. He said races are also held in Potsdam, Brasher, and Parishville. The legion cannot hold races on their own due to insurance concerns, but the NNYLMR carries an insurance policy which makes the races possible.
Since then, the track has been built and been improved steadily year to year, Richards said, thanks to the efforts of volunteers, legion members and various sponsors. He thanks CJ Trucking, H&C Robinson, Dale Rivers, and Richard Menke for their efforts, as well as the volunteer fire departments of Moira, Brushton, and Bangor. Those departments were on site with rescue vehicles and personnel, and Richards said the event wouldn’t be possible without the presence of first responders.
“The biggest thing is, if you don’t have these guys, you don’t have this,” Richards said. He said legionnaires and auxiliary provided and prepared food for the event.
Racers competed across several classes, separated by age, engine size, and various technical aspects of their machines. Some of the larger mowers can reach speeds as fast as 80 miles per hour, while smaller machines allow kids as young as eight to participate in the sport.
Rick Dabiew, president of the NNYLMR, said eight classes were represented at Saturday’s races, and said for him, racing is a family affair. His two daughters and son both race, and his older daughter Leeia related the passion for the sport she shares with her father.
“I wanted to race for a while,” Leeia said. She added that she has been interested in engines since a young age, which she says stems from her father’s occupation as a mechanic. She is in her fourth year of racing, while her father has been at it for six.
Races continued through the day, with spectators of all ages enjoying grilled burgers and hot dogs, as well as cool beverages, on a hot late summer Saturday.