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Lawn mowers dual in demo derby

Drivers clash in the Aug. 9 lawnmower derby at the Stevens County Fair. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times1 / 2
A mower goes engine up and rear down during the Aug. 9 lawnmower derby at the Stevens County Fair in Morris. Brooke Kern / Stevens County Times2 / 2

There wasn't a lawn in sight when the engines of these mowers started.

The lawnmower demolition derby returned on Aug. 9 to the Stevens County Fair in Morris. More than 15 bladeless machines banged and bumped their way through the derby.

"It may seem like they are going slow...but when you are out there the adrenaline is going...," said Ted Coleman, a mower demo driver from Hoffman.

The mowers are modified to hit each other. Roll bars are added and adjustments are made to the seat and engine.

When the mowers hit, the driver can "feel it a little bit," said Megan Findley of Herman. "It depends on how you get hit."

Although these machines were built to keep lawns trimmed, once they hit the demolition derby, they aren't driven like they are mowing dad's lawn.

Some mowers can hit speeds up to 20 mph, drivers Travis Kellen and Justin Athey of Clinton said.

Fans like it when the mowers hit hard, hard enough to lose a tire, Kellen said.

The roll bars come in handy because, " (nearly) every mower can be flipped," Kellen said.

"A roll over, the crowd likes that," Findley said.

"You want the other guy to flip, not you," said driver Brian Johnson of Chokio.

It doesn't take much money to convert a lawnmower into a demo derby mower, the drivers said.

"It takes more time than money," Coleman said. "If you have the time and the proper tools around you should be able to do it."

Coleman competes in lawnmower demolitions with several friends. "I don't think one of us has paid for a mower," he said. "I found mine in the woods and got it running again," Coleman said.

The drivers said they like the mower demo and choose it over the traditional car demolition derby.

"It's a whole lot cheaper (than car demolitions)," Johnson said.

"It's cheap fun. We don't like to spend too much money," Kellen said.

The Stevens County Fair continues through Sunday, Aug. 13.

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