Lowes are a cut above the rest
FOR the Lowe family, ride-on lawnmower racing is not a hobby, it's an obsession.
Dad Dave leads the family fleet, having first got behind the wheel two years ago.
It didn't take long before the mower fever spread to his children Sara, 18, Nathan, 16, and Kyle, 14, who are also members of the Fraser Coast Lawn Mower Racing Club.
On race days, mum Sandra helps run the show by co-ordinating races, fundraising and operating the canteen.
Dave, a tow-truck driver and panel beater from Maryborough, admits mower racing is not your usual Sunday family activity, but has brought them closer together.
"It is such an affordable sport and such a family sport," he said.
Although they are small, these bladeless beasts certainly have some grunt.
Some of the fastest mowers can complete one lap of a 460m-long track with eight corners in about 25 seconds.
With the help of his children, Dave has transformed five ride-on mowers into souped-up racing machines.
The most powerful one, a four-cylinder 400cc mower, is capable of reaching speeds of 140kmh.
"This thing has got one massive attitude," Dave said of his mower.
Despite the risk of eating dirt, Dave, who has forked out more than $15,000 to fund the family's fixation, believed it was worth it.
"I strongly believe what they are learning on the race track can greatly benefit them on the road and give them better driving skills," he said.
"Doing 80kmh on the back straight and throwing yourself into a right-hand corner sideways is an experience you can't get anywhere.
"But the best thing about the sport is what it has done for my 16-year-old boy (Nathan).
"Before starting up in the sport he used to be addicted to video games and didn't know the difference between a spanner and a screwdriver.
"In the past 18 months he hasn't even turned on the Playstation and instead goes down to the shed and works on the lathe.
"It has given both of them skills they can't get anywhere else."
While ride-on lawnmower racing is still a relatively recent phenomenon, it has taken off in Maryborough.
The Fraser Coast Lawn Mower Racing Club is the only club in Queensland to have its own permanent track and is home to half the registered race mowers in the state. More than 20 sod warriors faced off in Tinana yesterday for the first club's meet of the year.
Dave mowed down his rivals to take the B-grade crown, but the day belonged to Sara, who showed she could cut it in her competitive racing debut.
The 18-year-old, who has mixed it with the boys during the club's test and tune days, was a trim behind her brother Nathan, who finished second in D-grade.