The crowd that showed up at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday to see the “World's Fastest Lawn Mower Racing champion,” Bobby Cleveland, jump his vehicle over 22 race cars probably left a little disappointed.
Not only did they not get to see Cleveland jump 22 cars — they didn’t see him jump one.
As part of the U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association’s cleverly-coined "April Fuels Day," Cleveland took his custom-built Monster Mower off a four-foot high jump and sailed six feet through the air before touching down on a one-foot landing ramp.
Although the jump itself may not have been that impressive, Cleveland’s accomplishments in the world of lawn mower racing are.
Also known as the STA-BIL Engine Answerman, Cleveland currently holds the world record for speed on a lawn mower after he got up to 96.529 mph in 2010 on a vehicle he built himself. He’s also a 9-time National Lawn Mower Racing Champion and is the current world record holder in Monster Mower Jumping.
Cleveland took the time to answer some questions following this April Fuels Day stunt:
Where did the idea for this come about?
One night while skoaling…what we call drinking.
What did you do to prepare?
More skoaling. Just checked over everything to make sure the Monster Mower was ready.
What was running through your mind before the jump?
I hope it doesn’t quit while I’m going up the ramp. I was also looking forward to the celebration afterwards – more skoaling.
And while you were in the air?
I hoped the camera was working so I could show it to Tam-Tam, my girlfriend, so that she’d actually believe I was there.
Speaking of which, were there any groupies at the event?
As I always say, the women that you can pick up at a lawn mower race, you could just as easily pick up at a Waffle House.
Was there anything that surprised you about the event?
That people showed up thinking I was going to jump 22 cars, for sure.
Would you do anything differently if you could do it again?
I would like to jump Bruce Kaufman – the president of the USLMRA – or as I call him, Mr. Grasshole.
Who are your sources of inspiration?
My dad drove a truck and my mom drove a school bus. I’ve always loved to drive and as a kid I would always try to cut the grass a little faster so I could go ride my scooter. I used to jump it off terraces. Also I worked at Snapper for 27 years so I was always around mowers. I guess you could say I’m mo-tivated.
What's next for you?
I want to build a monster truck that looks like a monster mower so I can really do something serious. That’s definitely coming up on the agenda pretty soon.
Even though Cleveland didn’t set any world records on April 1, he was inducted into the USLMRA’s National Lawn Mower Racing Hall of Fame – and that’s no joke.
"We're honored to announce Bobby Cleveland as the next inductee into the USLMRA National Lawn Mower Racing Hall of Fame as he is truly an icon in this sport as a decorated racer, talented design engineer and the STA-BIL Engine Answerman for the past nine years," Kaufman said.
Once Cleveland builds the monster mower/monster truck, the 22-car jump might actually happen…
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook