Start your engines: Spencer Moose Lodge mower pull goes the distance

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

SPENCER — With the right amount of tinkering, that riding lawn mower gathering dust in your garage all winter can become a force to be reckoned with.

Piedmont Lawn and Garden Tractor Pullers Club members gathered at the Spencer Moose Lodge on Saturday to show off their converted lawnmowers before a crowd of more than 100 spectators.

The club’s scheduler, Jeremy Hand, explained that putting on the show takes a lot of prep work that happens behind the scenes.

“We were here all day (Friday) getting the track ready,” Hand said. “The pulling surface has to have some grip. It can’t be too dusty, and it can’t be too wet. It takes 10-12 hours to do a track.”

The event served as a fundraiser for the Spencer Moose Lodge’s community outreach programs.

“Our lodge and Spencer Women of the Moose Chapter 1197 use our fundraising efforts to support such causes as Rowan Meals on Wheels, Rowan Helping Ministries, Salisbury Post Christmas Happiness Fund, Dispatch Empty Stocking Fund (Davidson County), Rowan Rescue Squad, Community Care Clinic and Wounded Warrior Project, just to name just a few,” a spokesperson for the group said. “We also donate twice a year to Duke Cancer Patient Support at Duke Cancer Center, which is a statewide North Carolina Moose Association effort.”

Moose Lodge President Ted Carmen helped start the lawn mower pull last year.

“It was something new,” Carmen said. “I wanted to give the public something to help them learn about the lodge, to get the word out that the Moose Lodge isn’t just another bar to hang out at.”

Piedmont Lawn and Garden Tractor Pullers President Sean Barbee indicated that the outreach is a big appeal to the shows they put on.

“(Charitable fundraising) is a big part of what we do,” Barbee said. “It’s giving back. We don’t make any money doing this. It’s a hobby and it’s fun.”

For Barbee, pulling mowers has been a passion for a lifetime in the making.

“My dad took me as a kid,” Barbee said. “I have been doing this for 30 years. I started on a stocker, and now I run a hot rod with a V8 engine and 600 horsepower.”

It takes work to convert a lawnmower into a hotrod.

“You have to go into the engine, do your crankshaft, do your piston, do your head and your carburetor and your clutch, then you go to bend your rear end and put the wheelie bars on,” Barbee said.

Nowadays, mower pulls are a bonding activity with his stepson, Thad, and help get the 8-year-old out of the house.

“I had him come down to the shop, and he helped me mount some new tires,” Barbee said. “He helped me clean it. We had to come up with a name. He loves video games. We came up with Game Over. The video game Roblox is one of his favorites, so when my wife (Emily) was designing the decal, the ‘O’ in over is the Roblox emblem. He was so excited. We had him in the yard the other night hooked to our big tractor to get a feel of how it works. He is excited about it today.”

Fellow club member David Talley’s love affair with pulling mowers began during downtime at the Liberty Fire Department in 1980.

For Talley of Rockwell, it was just a way of passing time that became a serious hobby.

“I’m 77 years old, and I still love it,” Talley said.

Anyone wishing to learn more can visit the Piedmont Lawn and Garden Tractor Pull Facebook page.

In case you missed the event, the Piedmont Lawn and Garden Tractor Pullers will be at the Rowan County Fairgrounds at 1560 Julian Road in Salisbury on Saturday at 11 a.m.