Back at it in Spirit Lake

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  • Marty “The Clown” Radenz looks on as his riding lawnmower gets a quick tune-up before a race during the 17th annual Big Back-In lawnmower drag races in Spirit Lake. KEITH COUSINS/Press

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    KEITH COUSINS/Press Fans excitedly ready their hand for a high-five with one of the racers during Sunday’s Big Back-In lawnmower races.

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    KEITH COUSINS/Press Two racers hit the ground racing on their customized riding lawnmowers. Hundreds gathered in Spirit Lake on Sunday to witness the 17th annual Big Back-In drag races.

  • Marty “The Clown” Radenz looks on as his riding lawnmower gets a quick tune-up before a race during the 17th annual Big Back-In lawnmower drag races in Spirit Lake. KEITH COUSINS/Press

  • 1

    KEITH COUSINS/Press Fans excitedly ready their hand for a high-five with one of the racers during Sunday’s Big Back-In lawnmower races.

  • 2

    KEITH COUSINS/Press Two racers hit the ground racing on their customized riding lawnmowers. Hundreds gathered in Spirit Lake on Sunday to witness the 17th annual Big Back-In drag races.

SPIRIT LAKE — Hundreds lined Maine Street in Spirit Lake Sunday for the annual Big Back-In lawnmower drag races.

For 17 years, Spirit Lake has hosted the races, featuring tricked out riding lawn mowers that can reach up to 40 mph, on Father’s Day. Mike Cover, an event organizer, told The Press that the event kicks off a North Idaho circuit with five more races taking place in the region this summer.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” Cover said of racing. “We get into some spirited competition and you’re putting on a show for all the people that come out.”

The roar of the lawnmower engines filled the air as racers faced off against each other. A traditional starting light ticked from red to green before the lawnmowers jetted down Maine Street.

“It’s all about reaction time,” Cover said of the key to victory.

One racer’s bright pink attire, with a matching pink beard, made him stand out above the rest. For a decade, Marty “The Clown” Radenz said he has competed in lawnmower races, adding that he wears the pink getup to honor family members who lost battles with cancer.

“Some days the mower goes fast, other days it goes slow,” Radenz said. “But it really isn’t about that — it’s all about entertaining the kids and I love doing it.”

On the sidelines, the mood was festive as onlookers cheered on their favorites while eating and drinking from a variety of establishments. Mary Lou Banks, a resident who has been attending the races for eight years now, said the event is perfect for Father’s Day.

“There’s a lot of families here enjoying it,” she said. “I love that it’s such a big community event.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the Spirit Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

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