Town lays out welcome mat for 'Outlaws'

By David Pattenaude, Petrolia Topic

The Town of Petrolia has put out the welcome mat for outlaws.

But it's not what you think.

The Western Ontario Outlaws Lawnmower Racing Club has the town's blessing to hold high-speed, weekend races at a former motorcycle racetrack next to the Petrolia landfill, on Oil Heritage Road.

Racing won't start until August this year, says club member Ryan Kerr, because “...there's a lot of work to do first and we need to make the oval dirt track smaller.”

Kerr said there will be one to two race events per month during a May-October racing season next year. There would be about 20 racing mowers, of different classes, ranging from Juniors to Outlaws.

Races typically start around 1 p.m. and last about three hours on Saturdays or Sundays.

Petrolia council has no objection (approval was given at its May 27 meeting) to racing at the track, located at 4120 Oil Heritage Rd., and landowner Peter Greydanus is giving the club permission to use his property, pending a lease agreement.

The 10-acre property will have room for the track, a pit area, spectator seating and parking.

Kerr said the 40-member club ran demonstration races several years ago at the Petrolia and Enniskillen Fall Fair.

“Lawnmower racing is a fun, family friendly event and alcohol-free,” said Kerr. “Our club has racers ages five to 65, both male and female. We are a non-profit club that donates annually to Sick Kids Hospital.”

Lawnmower racing is more popular in the U.S. but the sport is catching on in Canada. There's no prize money in the sport, called the “poor man's NASCAR,” and machines can reach 160 km/h with engines having from 80 to 90 horsepower. Some engines have more than 100 horsepower and some machines are worth $20,000 – but most cost from $1,000 to $5,000 to build.

Kerr is a champion lawnmower racer in the U.S. and makes his living from the sport. He builds $4,000 mower engines for U.S. racers.

The Western Ontario Outlaws Lawnmower Racing Club started in 2007 after splitting from the Ingersoll Ontario Lawn Tractor Racing Association.


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