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Weekend racers couldnt ask for mower

The Beaverton-based lawnmower racing club raises money for an area hospital
by: Shannon Wells A good time was had by all at the U.S. Pacific Coast Open lawnmower races held Saturday and Sunday at Mow Bang Raceway in Estacada as part of the Big Bang Fourth of July festival. A field of about 50 racers from Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada and Canada took to the new track for two days of races.

Despite his own mixed fortunes on the racetrack, Gary Tucker called the inaugural U.S. Pacific Coast Open lawnmower races held over Fourth of July weekend in Estacada a cutting-edge success.

Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s to low 80s graced the event, which drew hundreds of racing fans to the newly constructed Mow Bang Speedway on Eagle Creek Road.

'It was a good weekend,' said Tucker, president of the Beaverton-based Northwest Mower Racing Association. 'We really lucked out on the weather.'

The sustained blast of summery weather meant plenty of dust was flying as the racers careened around the track on their riding mowers, some modified to reach speeds of 50 miles per hour or more.

Tucker, who helped organize the event as part of Estacada's 'Big Bang' Fourth of July celebration, said he performed well the first day in his 15-horsepower Craftsman riding mower, which was a substitute for a machine that broke down earlier.

'I was doin' real good in the red one, then it blew up,' he said.

Tucker was able to donate the winning Craftsman for the day through a silent auction. That added $200 to the amount he and his racing friends contributed to Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health Science University through selling race programs.

Ken Pegram, an Estacada resident who attends the July 4 festivities every year, says he was impressed with the speed and agility of the mower racers as well as the fun they and the racing fans appeared to be having.

'This is awesome,' he says. 'I would love to see it every year.'

Tucker said he plans to hold the event next year, when he expects an even larger number of racers to participate.

'As this grows and gets more regular exposure, there will be less and less conflicting events,' he said. 'I think it will grow every year.'

Bruce Kaufman, president of the Illinois-based U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association, said he was impressed with the racers, the weather and all he saw in his first-ever visit to Oregon.

'We're definitely coming back next year,' he said.