By C. J. “Sparkplug” Stewart
Special to the Ramona Sentinel
For the first time in local history, three local Ra-mow-nans along with their families embarked on a mow-tivated journey to race their riding lawn mowers outside the region.
If you’re asking: No, this isn’t the new home and garden section of the newspaper.
Ramona natives Dennis Sprong #1B, Darrell “Mow” Moore #69, and Bob Blew #45 took the podium positions in their respected classes on the turf of Anza’s Mowtivated Hillbillys sanctioned United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) race track on Saturday.
From the USLMRA’s Website:
“America’s ‘Grass Roots’ Motorsport continues to mow and grow!
“Just remember our motto: We turn a weekend chore into a competitive sport!”
On the Mowtivated Hillbillys 750-foot long oval dirt track, Sprong turned in a qualifying time of 14.19 seconds, Moore was 15.75 seconds, and Blew’s time was 16.28.
Race classes are determined on the qualifying time. Currently there’s a 14 and 16 second class for the adults based on the mower’s speed and driver’s ability.
Moore said, “We just came out to check it out and have some fun—And so far it’s been a blast.”
Moore a former four-season race car driver at El Cajon Speedway and two-year veteran at Barona Speedway, used to be a proven competitor in the Bomber class and in the Figure-8 style boat races. (Picture this: Race car towing a boat [on a trailer] in a high-speed gauntlet.)
“Sometimes I would race the Enduro’s at El Cajon—75 laps one way and then we’d turn around and race another 75 laps in the other direction.” Moore said, “I miss that place.”
Blew raced El Cajon Speedway for seven or eight seasons,
“I raced with my dad’s original race number #345,” he said, “My dad built the car, he got sick one night, and I ended up being the driver from then on.
“Me and my pit crew had a great understanding. They thought I was an idiot for driving the car, and I thought they were idiots for wrenching on the car,” Blew laughed, “I’m allergic to wrenches.”
Blew’s wife Tracy stepped in, joking, “And they were both right.”
Blew sarcastically reminisced, “Oh, yeah? I miss all the politics, the special preferences to certain drivers, the money involved, and working all weekend, I mean all weekend on the car.”
On your mark, get set, mow!
Racing a 7-lap format in the qualifiers, Blew finished first, with Don Watson of Anza in second, and Moore third.
Moore threw a belt in the second qualifier and had to finish the evening on a loaned-out, back-up mower of former two-time Ramowna lawn mower champion Kyle Grosse #K2.
Dennis Sprong said, “We’re here for a good time. Why else would you come to Anza besides to have a good time?”
His wife Erin said, “I think it’s great. I love it. It’s very exciting.”
Sprong’s mother Helen and father Gus cheered in agreement.
Helen leaned over, “You know what I think is cute? You see over there is a 12-year-old boy that was racing his lawn mower,” Pointing to Don Brenz III and Buddy Elmore of Anza. “It reminds me of when Dennis was a 12-year-old, he was racing the mud rail at the same age.
“I’ll always remember those days. We used to call him Mr. Mudweiser. Later he used to [drag] race Pro Modified Hydro in the IHBA (International Hot Boat Association).”
While Sprong was out winning yet another heat race, papa Gus got everybody’s attention by pointing and yelling for the world to hear, “That’s my boy.”
The butt of jokes...
As Sprong came into the Ramowna pits, all three pit crews taunted him, “That cheating * won again.” They crowed, “How did that feel, Mr. Moweiser? You cheating *.” [Laughs]
While Moore howled at Blew, “One more lap and you would have been mine,” pausing, “Well maybe two more laps?” Blew gave Moore a look, “Yeah, right?”
Blew had a rough ride in that heat race. “Did you see how far I came off of my seat?” he asked his crew. “Go look at it. It’s bent.”
The chanting began, “More crack, more crack, more crack.”
Race crew member Joe Jones said, “Yeah, you came off the seat so far your butt crack now says Craftsman on it.” (Blew turned around to look.)
Crew members yelled at their race mates, “I think you need to run with a handicap—Like take the front tire off and run on the rim.”
Moore said, “Well we did what was asked.” Smiling, “We came here and got 1-2-3. First, second and third.”
Bud “Elmow” Elmore, the first director in charge of the Mowtivated Hillbillys said, “I think they’ll be back to race with us again.” Referring to the Ramowna crews, “They only get to race twice a year down there. Here, we race twice a month.”
Don Wimpee of Anza said, “Man, their fast, and their competitive. It’s a lot mowre fun when there’s mowre mowers.”
The big “DQ” and victory party
After the race the Ramowna crew stopped on the main drag through town at the Dairy Queen.
“We’ve got to give back to the community by supporting a local business,” said Moore.
They talked about how much they liked the race track, race team uniforms, and the unofficial name of their race team.
Sprong said, “I like the Ramowna Rednecks.” Blew said, “Ramowna Grass Kickers.”
Moore said, “We need to vote on this, guys—everybody needs to be part of that decision.”
Blew joked, “You know, when we get back to Ramona, they’ll probably have big banners hanging up and waiting for us on our victory. You know, like a midnight parade.”
Moore’s wife Pam Lawrence said, “Yeah, and the Piggly Wiggly is staying open late tonight waiting for us.”
To learn more about lawn mower racing in Southern California and the USLMRA, visit: www.2budzracing.com.