Mowing down the competition

By Matt Harrelson

March 24, 2014

By Matt Harrelson

ELLERBE — The roar of engines fill the air on a comfortable Saturday evening at the Ellerbe Lions Club lawnmower dirt track.

Flags, including a checkered one sit atop the announcer booth ready to be waved to declare a winner after each race.

The Ellerbe Lions Club has been putting on lawnmower races for eight years now although Kermit Perkins, track manager, has been involved with the track and races for almost 40 years.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Perkins. “But it gets very loud.”

John Harris Rummage, who has been an Ellerbe Lions Club member for 58 years, was vital to the mower races seen today. He built the track by hauling and scraping dirt and by being the boss.

“It used to be a horse track,” said Rummage. “But we started losing horses so we built a lawnmower track. We had to make the track bigger, but it’s nice for everyone to have fun on a Saturday night with the fans.”

Rummage said over the course of a year, up to 5,000 fans attend. Summer time is the busiest.

On the other end of the age spectrum, kids are everywhere, not only watching but participating as well. Kids between 7 and 12 take it very seriously.

Parker Griffin, 8, a third-grader from Peachland-Polkton Elementary School in neighboring Anson County, said this was his very first night racing, but it was something he wants to do in the future.

“I really enjoyed racing my lawnmower,” said Griffin.

It’s not all about just racing. Brett Tice, who is friends with Parker as well as several other competitors, didn’t race on Saturday night. Intead, he relegated himself as the pit crew for Parker’s mower as well as buddies Dexter Jones, 9, and Kole Dutton, 9, all from Peachland-Polkton Elementary School.

“This is my first time being involved,” said Tice. “But I wanna keep doing it.”

Back on the adult side of the night, Rex Crouch Jr. has been racing lawnmowers in Ellerbe for eight years.

“I’ve been here from the start,” said Crouch. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s a lot of family fun.”

Friends and family having fun cheering on the competitors was all that mattered Saturday night in Ellerbe. Lawnmower racing just added to the excitement.