Jul. 5—TWELVE MILE — There was a good mix of new and old at the 60th running of the Twelve Mile 500 Lawnmower Race on Monday.
The new was one of the USLMRA racers from Ohio who raced over the weekend, Dustin Music, won the Briggs race in his first attempt.
The old guard also came through on the day as one of the members of the First Family of Mowing, Zach Troyer, won the Modified race at the annual Independence Day event.
The first race of the day was the Briggs race and it was dust-filled to say the least. Music took the lead for good about halfway through on the 30th lap and went on to win by about a quarter of a track length over runner-up John Troyer. Zach Kesler placed third, Darren Ulerick was fourth and Nathan Harrod placed fifth.
"Honestly I didn't think it was going to happen because this is my first time here," Music said. "I've heard a lot of great things about this place. I just wanted to be part of it, I never expected to win.
"That's the most fun I've had on four wheels."
Music, 31, of Lewisburg, Ohio, also won a race on Saturday night at Twelve Mile.
"I raced FX single Saturday and Sunday," he said. "I took first on Saturday and I was in the lead until my valve cover came off on Sunday. But it's been a fabulous weekend."
Music is a USLMRA racer.
"It's not professionally. We do it for fun, travel the United States, it's all fun," he said. "We don't normally race for money, so to come down here and do that is something I don't normally do."
Music's teammate from Ohio, Dave Scharold, hosts a lawnmower racing podcast on Spotify, Live from the Kracken.
"We're the only one out there so it makes us the best," Scharold said. "I run an FX single and I'm the president of the Ohio Mower Racing Association, the OMRA. We travel to Florida, we go to Michigan next week, we go all over the country and race and go to different classes. This is the first time I've ever been here too. While they were on the track I texted a buddy of mine, I said sell me the mower because I'm building one for this one next year. I'm not missing it again. The people have been wonderful here. The town is so welcoming, the park is beautiful, the facilities are great. We raced the last two days on the circle track, we had a blast doing that. So we'll be back every year. This has been fantastic."
Music said a key to winning was avoiding black flags for speeding.
"You're trying not to get penalized and not pushing it too hard to tear your stuff up," he said. "It's an endurance race. You've got to try to minimize your tear up and whatnot. And then visual perspective was really hard for all the dust and stuff. Other than that, it was great."
Black flags were a key factor in the modified race. Defending champion Bradley Justice had a good-sized lead before he was black flagged on the 42nd lap. John Troyer had a big lead when he was black flagged on the 46th lap. Zach Troyer then took a big lead and held on, winning by about a quarter of a track length over runner-up Justice. John Troyer placed third, Darren Ulerick placed fourth and Chris Ulerick placed fifth.
"It was fun, it was a good race. It was clean," Troyer said. "I tried to run slow. I saw everybody getting them, so if I got fast I just told myself not to chase them and it usually panned out."
Troyer, 34, won his fifth title at Twelve Mile. He did so riding the Intimidator 2.
"I built it four years ago and this is the first time it's actually run right," he said, adding that he had used his father's mower, the original Intimidator, the last couple years but not this year.
"The last couple years when I couldn't get this thing going I ran his," he said.
His father, Randy Troyer, is the all-time winningest driver at Twelve Mile with 12 wins. Uncle John Troyer has nine wins. Zach is starting to catch up with five now.
Randy Troyer said he might make his comeback soon.
"One day. I'm giving everybody a chance. I'll come back," he said. "That's all right. I'm just giving them a little time."
The Troyer dynasty won't be ending any time soon. Zach Troyer said his son, Camden Troyer, is now 8 years old and is eight years away from competing.
"You used to only have to be 12, now you have to be 16," Troyer said.
The competition is heating up with drivers from Ohio and Michigan who compete all summer joining the fun. But the Troyer family showed once again they'll be tough to beat on their home course.
The Twelve Mile 500 is a Fourth of July tradition and is the oldest lawnmower race in the US and possibly the world. It has been held annually since 1963.