By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“If you did this to your neighbor's Craftsman, you'd probably have to find new neighbors,” said Don Trussell, a retired heavy-equipment operator and acclaimed Sequim lawnmower racer.
Sans blades and flying clumps of grass, souped-up lawnmowers from all over the Pacific Northwest will hit the track Saturday as part of Sequim's 118th Irrigation Festival.
Trussell said the lawnmower races, which will be in Carrie Blake Park at 202 N. Blake Ave., are a natural fit for the city's celebration of the canals that bring life to the Dungeness Valley.
“You have to irrigate to have a lawn. You have to have a lawn to have a lawnmower,” Trussell said.
Sign-ups are available at the event. Races and events are free to watch, but a donation is suggested for access to the whole Logging Show.
More than two dozen racers from as far away as Oregon and Canada are expected to spin around the Sequim oval on mowers that have been lowered, strengthened and had transmissions modified to allow race speeds in excess of 30 mph and straightaway speeds of more than 50 mph.
They will chase each other around the oval grass track at the east end of the Logging Show grounds in heats that start at 11 a.m. and wind up with the main event at 4 p.m.
Midway through the race will be a “Dash for the Gas” contest, in which gas cards are awarded to the winning grass-cutters, said Kevin Kennedy, co-organizer of the Logging Show.
“These guys are rolling these things over, tipping them over and just beating themselves up,” Kennedy said. “We figured they should take something home.”
Trussell and his wife, Debra, are local celebrities who have collected quite a trophy collection on his modified lawnmowers.
“We saw one of these races, and I said, 'I could do that,'” Debra Trussell said. “So I had him build me one.”
Said her husband: “I built one for her. And she was having too much fun, so I built one for me.”
Now, he's organizing the races at the Irrigation Festival.
“It's gotten to be a real popular part of the whole show,” Don said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.