Mow fun in Amboy
Territorial Days concludes with popular lawn mower races
Sunday, July 10, 2011
And the winners are …
First: Randy Paris of La Center.
Second: Kevin Kopkie of Yacolt.
Third: Cody Kuschel of Amboy.
First: Chad Kuschel of Amboy.
Second: Tim Utton of Yacolt.
Third: Justin McCorkle of Tacoma.
First: Brenda Olstad of Amboy.
Second: Lindsey Paris of Dollars Corner.
Third: Dawn Walker of Battle Ground.
Open class winner:
Chad Kuschel of Amboy.
Dawn Walker of Battle Ground.
8-horsepower winner 1:
Randy Paris of La Center.
8-horsepower winner 2:
Mike Kuschel of Amboy
But wait … there’s more
The 19-acre Territorial Park on the edge of Cedar Creek was alive Saturday with some 25 loggers showing their skills. Jeff Fetter of Buckley was named all-around logger.
An estimated 5,000 attended the weekend events.
The population of Amboy is more than 1,000.
As for royalty, 14-year-old Tabitha Howell was named queen of Territorial Days and longtime resident Laurence “Spook” Frasier of the Amboy-area, an original member of Amboy Fire Department, was the named “Bull of the Woods.” The award is given to a longtime logger, which fits Frasier, who worked in the woods from 1946 to 1987. Richard and Jinnie Langenbach were parade grand marshals. Richard taught in Amboy schools for 25 years. Jinnie worked in Battle Ground schools.
AMBOY — Klat-klat-klat-klater-bap-bap-pop-pop-bop-ba-ooom.
The cacophony of souped-up lawn mower engines was music to the ears of hundreds on Sunday as racers coaxed their carburetors and drove with abandon.
And the crowd ate it up, along with a healthy dose of dust, as racers hit 30 mph in the Amboy Territorial Days favorite. And, yes, there were some crazy crashes.
“It’s a blast. I’ve flown off a few times, but I’ve never broken a bone,” said racer Chad Kuschel, 24, of Amboy. He said No. 60 has an 8-horsepower MTD engine that once was a lawn mower. Yep, it has the same ornery pull start that frustrates many a weekend lawn jockey.
Pit crews are always ready with starter fluid when those fussy carburetors refuse to pop. Hey, $625 in prize money was on the line.
Kuschel’s mechanic, 61-year-old Norm Olstad of Amboy, said of building a racer, “It’s a learning process. To build one takes about a year but to learn it takes three or four years.”
He said driving is “great if you don’t crash, but I crashed, so I don’t race anymore.”
This was the 15th year of the lawn mower races at Territorial Days, a celebration that is 51 years old.
Sun baked the track Sunday.
Kuschel was one of the stars of the day. Asked for his technique, he offered, “I try to do a controlled drift” on the oval’s curves.
The event is a fundraiser for the Amboy Volunteer Firefighters Association, said volunteer Firefighter Matt Sciaretta, 25. He said the event will raise $1,800 that the association will give back to community causes. Fire District 10 at Amboy has two paid staff members and 28 volunteers.
Jack Head of La Center said he came to cheer on Kyle Thorson and his daughter, Kristi, who was a winner last year. But there was no sign of the Thorsons. Friends explained that was because Kristi gave birth to daughter Hailey at 10:16 a.m. Sunday.
“Wild horses can’t keep them off their lawn mowers, except a baby girl,” Head explained.
But Thorson’s mower, Beer 30, was there and Bode Browning, 48, of Dollars Corner won a heat on his first year of competing.
“I’m ridin’ for Kyle,” he said.
“It’s amazing what guys will do with machines,” Head said as Beer 30 was in the pits. “Anything that moves, and then they’ll start competing.”
John Wilson of Wilson’s Auto, son of onetime Fire Chief Sonny Wilson, built the 19F mower that Kevin Rogers, 37, of Amboy rode to victory. Wilson said it takes “a minimum of 1,500 bucks and a lot of hours” to build a racer.
Three women and 13 men competed before a crowd of about 300 in Territorial Park.
Racers competed in the 8-horsepower division and the open division, where engines can be big ones originally used on a lawn tractor. Racers must be at least 18 years old.
Kenny Knott, 11, an Amboy Middle School student, called the event “really cool. … Keeps you on the edge of your seat.”
As racers gunned around the track for the last race, Kuschel had a commanding lead only to have his mower die. On came Randy Paris in the .08 machine. The 33-year-old La Center man was ecstatic, winning prize money and status.
How did he do it?
“I stayed on,” he said. “Don’t fall off. Don’t go off the track.”