Racers go head over heels

Sunny skies and dry weather proved the exact opposite of last year’s conditions for the Whidbey Island Blade Benders in their fourth annual Independence Day Mow Down held Sunday at the old rodeo grounds off Fakkema Road.

“You couldn’t have asked for better weather,” WIBB president Myron Brundage said.

In fact it was so dry the track was hosed down with water from tankers provided by Jet City Rentals and Fire District 2 before anyone placed their machine on the dirt.

“5,000 gallons of water pretty well takes care of the dust problem,” Brundadge said.

The Northwest Lawn Mower Racing Association event drew 28 competitors come from as north as the Fraser Valley in British Columbia to as far as south as Buckley.

“It’s amazing how many grown men want to go out and play with lawn mowers,” Brundage said.

Over the day competitors faced off in two classifications of mower racing, the 8 HP and the 12 HP.

Big winners on the afternoon were Brian Odell from Sedro-Woolley, who took first in the 8 HP A-Main race, received third in the 8 HP trophy dash and claimed the fast qualifier award.

A man simply known as Clarence from B.C. took first in the A-Main for the 12 HP.

Local racers also fared well in the day’s events. Ray Cropp from Oak Harbor took fourth in the 8 HP A-Main and received a first place finish in the 8 HP trophy dash. Paul Burt from Oak Harbor grabbed a first place finish in the 8 HP B-Main and a second place finish in the 8 HP C-Main.

Brundage took second in the 12 HP Main-A, received first place in the 12 HP trophy dash and was the fast qualifier for the 12 HP. Mike Trask from Oak Harbor was third in the 12 HP A-Main, while Skip Johnson took fourth in the same event and a second in the trophy dash.

Having a not so lucky day, Oak Harbor’s Jason Porter picked up the hard luck award after breaking his machine and going head over handle bars during competition.

Overall, Brundage was thrilled with the way race day turned out.

“We had a pretty decent crowd, nobody got hurt and there was a lot of good racing,” he said.

Along with a great day of racing, the group also raised a total of $295 between their 60/40 raffle and winnings from the Rubber Ducky Regatta, which will go to the Cancer Walk for Life Pledge in 2004.

As far as bringing the event back for its fifth straight year, questions still remain as to whether or not the old rodeo ground property will be sold.

“We’re hoping to have many more,” Brundage said.

Even if the property remains available for their use, one thing Brundage would like to eventually see in Oak Harbor is a track that could facilitate all different kinds of motor sport racing.

“It would be nice if we could come up with a new racing facility here in town,” he said.

The Whidbey Island Blade Benders, which consist of 19 racers, will make their way to Newberg, Ore., on July 19 for their next big competition.

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