Cruising in Georgiana on a Saturday afternooon

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Every sport has highlights and then has lowlights. Saturday, those that braved the chilly weather were able to witness several lawnmower racing lowlights.

The First Baptist Church of Georgiana had their fundraising lawnmower race.

"The Pettus Street 500" was live and underway this time with no threat of a hurricane to postpone it.

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The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 18, but thanks to Hurricane Ivan's mower-proofing of the strip, the event was cancelled.

That was ok for the racers.

That gave them an extra month and a half to continue the trash talk.

Saturday, all the talk came to a head. The start line was drawn and it was time for everyone to saddle up to it.

All the characters were there, Fast Eddie Holder, Rapid Rob Williams, Speedy Steve Williams, Jan Black, the Road Dog Jimmy Bush, Daniel "The Kid" Lowe and the Commish, Jerry Hartin.

The Reverend Allen Stephenson was on hand to commentate the spectacle.

With a line-up like that, there was still one person missing.

Richard "CSI" Hornsby and Silver Bullet Racing had yet to make an appearance at the start line.

The rumor was that he had blinded himself while modifying his mower.

"He burned his eyes welding a pulley on his motor," said Rapid Rob Williams.

"He was down there welding without his shield. I saw him down at the pool hall yesterday, his wife runs the game room, he had two pieces of cotton on both eyes and had a cue stick walking around like a blind man."

"I told him that we wouldn't going to furnish him a seeing-eye dog to get across the finish line."

There was some truth to the rumor.

"That just shows you what I had to overcome to get here. I burned my eyes welding on that pulley that Rob gave me" Hornsby said.

"They were bragging about all this and that and I told them that I'd be at the finish line waiting on them."

But, by the time the second heat of racers had taken to the line, CSI was up front and ready to go. The starting gun sounded and the silver mower was off. Hornsby smoked the competitors.

This race was with Fast Eddie and Rapid Rob among the participants.

CSI and the two elders also had a side bet going on.

"Rapid Rob and I have either got to give him our shirts or leave town," Holder said.

"I'm thinking about leaving town. After we tear this mower down and see what all is illegal. Then we'll make an official decision."

Hornsby wanted the shirts.

"I think with all that trash-talk they were doing in the paper," Hornsby said. "They need to give up their shirts."

Even during the run, Hornsby's super-charged "Death Machine" was under scrutiny.

"We need Richard 'CSI' Hornsby to report to the inspection table," Stephenson announced over the PA as the race ended. "We believe you are illegal. The sheriff will be here shortly to take you away."

Hornsby made one more run at the end of the event when he raced "The Kid" in a special challenge race.

Lowe was riding on a mower that had been around since the depression. The tractor was nearly 70 years old.

But, it was Hornsby who's tractor was having issues before the race.

"He's got about an eight-inch pulley on that engine and a four inch stroke on that transmission. So you can figure about what he did with that mower," said Williams.

"I gave him that pulley he welded on his tractor."

At the end of the race as all the trash talk was coming to an end, Jan Black shot some parting words at the racers.

"Wait until next year!"

Despite the need for speed, Steve Williams took the relaxed approach.

Williams raced in the second heat of the day. But, 10 feet into the race it was clear where he would finish. He spent the first part of the race with his feet propped up on the steering wheel of his lawnmower.

"Yeah, you can only do that on a mower as slow as mine. That's one of the advantages of having a lawnmower that only goes about three miles an hour," Williams said. "We all had a good time, it was a lot of fun and I'd do it again tomorrow if I had the chance."

All the trash-talk, and rumors added to the event and made it a success in the eyes of Stephenson.

"It went great, just great," Stephenson said. "We had a great time and a lot of people came out to watch. I heard a lot of 'wait until next year' and a lot of good-natured fun. We raised probably $1000 for the church."

An event like this that is good, somewhat-wholesome family entertainment could become an annual event.

"I can see there is enough interest," Stephenson said. "I can see it becoming an annual thing. There are a lot of folks here saying that they'd wished they'd brought their lawnmower. I can see this easily becoming an annual event and be a lot fun. It got a lot of folks out and gave them the chance to have some fun."

The money raised for the event puts the congregation that much closer to having a church of their own and getting out of the movie theatre.

"We plan to break ground on or before February 1st," Stephenson said. "We are shooting for six months to build the church. We are at the GeoAnna Theatre. We are looking forward to the ground breaking on our new church."

As the event was ending, Hornsby popped a wheelie on his mower, and was bucked off. But, have no fear. The coroner was not injured, except for his pride.

Stephenson would like to thank the following sponsors for their support in the spectacle.

"Many local businesses and individuals made donations for the winners for the races. In all we raised almost $1300 for the new church. A good time was had by all that were involved," said Stephenson.