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12 hours is a mow-go for legion of lawn racers

An annual lawnmower race has become a sporting victim of recession-hit Britain this summer, trimmed down to four hours from its usual 12.

Organisers struggled with entries for the annual race with only 21 teams signing up, which is half the amount as last year. They were forced to reorganise and shorten the event.

"When we consulted all the teams, they just didn't have the money in order to do a full 12 hours this year but they wanted to do a race of some description," said Mark Constanduros, chairman of the British Lawn Mower Racing Association.


The event, held over a circuit measuring about 548 metres, involves different classes of modified lawnmowers: traditional with seat, buggy, and the more popular mini-tractors.

Whatever the class, the racing mowers take months of work to prepare for the event but it's harder for the racers to prepare themselves for the bumps along the course.

"Arms, legs, back, neck, even my nose is sore where my goggles rub, but I still keep doing it, I don't know why!" said racer Graham Harvey.

The sport itself dates back to 1973 when Irishman Jim Gavin became disillusioned with the cost of motorsports so decided, from his seat in the Cricketers Arms pub in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, to create a cheap, accessible form of motorsport.

Interest grew in the mid-1970s when former racing driver Stirling Moss was attracted to the sport by the club atmosphere and fun of racing.