Who could have ever imagined land speed racing lawnmowers would become an International challenge? It’s true, and to the degree it makes Tim the Tool Man with his hyper-powered riding lawnmower look like a little kid pedaling a tricycle.
Record keeping began in 1976 in Boone, Iowa, when Festus Shawler was clocked by Boone police escaping from a Sears store on a bone-stock Craftsman riding lawnmower doing 13 mph. From there things went international with riding lawnmower manufacturers from around the world raising the bar.
Up until recently Guinness’s World Land Speed Record for a riding lawnmower stood at 117mph. The record set by Honda’s British division in conjunction with its British Touring Car Championship partner Team Dynamics based its entry around a Honda HF2620 lawn tractor. The stock Honda bodywork remained, but underneath saw the addition of a custom fabricated tube chassis configured to a hold a 1-liter Honda VTR motorcycle engine. In order to satisfy Guinness’s judges the mower must be able to actually cut grass. Instead of a PTO (power takeoff) to drive the cutting blades two 3mm steel cables are attached to two electric motors that turn at 4000 rpm.
There’s no mention of Guinness sanctioning the attempt, but it’s looking like a Corvette LS powered lawnmower piloted by Finnish driver (gardener?) Pekka Lundefaret broke Honda’s record by 17 mph running 134 mph in less than favorable weather conditions riding a Viking T6.
Straight from the horse’s mouth, “A lawn mower from Austria-based gardening power tool manufacturer VIKING recently set a new world record in an attention-grabbing campaign. On November, 5th 2015, Norwegian driver Pekka Lundefaret used a converted Viking T6 Series lawn tractor to achieve a speed of 215 km/h on the runway at Norway's Torp-Sandefjord Airport. This makes Viking the new title-holder for the lawn mower land speed record.
The average speed of 215 km/h was achieved over the regulation distance of one English mile (approx. 1.6 km). Although the first attempt failed and it looked like the event would have to be called off due to rain and fog at the airport, which is located south of Oslo, the record was finally broken. The airport safety personnel provided the perfect backup, coordinating the attempt between the scheduled takeoffs and landings.
This extraordinary project took several months of preparation between Viking, its Scandinavian distributors, Stihl, and the Norwegian Motorsports Association and was headed by Marius Gjevik from the "Norwegian Speed Factory," who contributed valuable advice from professional motorsport.
The rules require that the lawn mower should also have a mowing deck and a grass catcher box. After all, a lawn mower must be able to cut grass. With 408 hp under the bonnet, a Formula 1 paddle shift and Formula 3 tyres, the Scandinavian team was extremely well equipped and driver Pekka Lundefaret had cause to celebrate in the end.” "I can't believe that we managed to set this world record despite less-than-ideal weather conditions. I would like to thank everyone who supported this crazy idea."