How redneck can you get?

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Lawn mowers come in all sizes and shapes, and Sunday’s Redneck Rodeo at Bayfest in Port Rowan had six of them.


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“It was fun,” said defending Redneck Rodeo champion Ian Chevalier from Port Rowan, who was racing a vintage 1968-1970 10hp Wheel Horse. “I mean, some had hydro-static so it’s not as easy to do…”

Hydrostatic mowers have advantages over gear-driven mechanical-belt mowers, including more power, quicker response, better braking and maneuverability. Which meant one of the mowers Sunday afternoon had an advantage. But all participants seemed to have fun, including riders on three significantly slower mowers.

The race format changed slightly from previous years. In past years competitors raced to the far end of the roped-off street (maybe 50-75m), came to a complete stop, hopped off the mower and physically lifted the front end around until it was facing the opposite direction, jumped back on and raced to the finish. This year, two chairs at the far end allowed riders to swing around and return without getting off the mowers.

The big surprise, at least in the first couple of heats, was watching both riders veer to their ‘outside’ lane turning to meet on the ‘inside’ track – nearly colliding head-on.

“I wasn’t anticipating him going to the outside, we should have probably planned that,” said Chevalier. “But he was right, we’ve got people sitting close the end there. Next year we’ll pre-plan things.”

Six entries competed in the two-mower heats. Two losses meant elimination, and Chevalier’s came earlier than expected giving him fourth place to go with second in 2016 and a 2017 first-place ribbon.


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“It’s a lot of fun, the kids love it,” said Chevalier, enjoying post-race ice cream from Twins Ice Cream Parlour with his family. “It’s all for fun, that’s for sure.”

Port Rowan’s Brad Meyers took the second-place prize Sunday racing an unknown make and model that he refurbished about four years ago.

“I don’t even know what make it is,” Meyers laughed. “I picked it up as scrap from a friend.”

“The Junky 2000,” a young supporter joked.

“Yeah, call it that if you want,” Meyers smiled. “The guy threw it out, he said it was no good. So I got it running and I cut my grass with it – and I won $50 last year with it – second – and again this year.”

He said his only initial cost was putting oil into it.

“I think he was surprised I got it running.

“Nothing’s changed,” he said, noting the ‘Junky 2000’ still has its original 10hp Briggs Stratton motor.

“I just bypassed it here, with a string,” he said, noting the shoe-lace type string attached to the ‘governor’, which regulates speed. “You want redneck, you got redneck. It looks stupid, but hey, it runs. See, I’m just bypassing the governor… but I’m taking a chance I could get a blown machine. But you know, it was scrap.”

Meyers went head to head in the final heat of the day with eventual winner Kirk Bridgman, also from the Port Rowan area. Meyers stalled at the start line in the first attempt, then gave his machine all it had in the re-run, which Bridgman won.

“It was a stock machine, it (Bridgman’s Cub Cadet) just had… what do they call it? Hydrostatic,” said Meyers, who is considering replacing engines with something a bit bigger next year. And maybe a new prop to replace the string of beer cans trailing behind.

“Redneck,” Meyers smiled.

The Redneck Rodeo, sponsored by Erie Mechanical Services, also included three earlier events – ‘Rubber Chicken Throw’ (for distance), Ball Throw Through the Toilet Seat (for accuracy), and Funny Faces (for laughs), giving kids and adults without mowers a chance to enter for prizes.

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