Coalton, West Virginian Danny Phillips has been racing lawn mowers for 15 years and has a mantle full of more than 50 first place trophies to show for it. But those trophies are far less important to Phillips than the message his custom-built racing mowers bear. That’s why Phillips is the newest Team E3 Racing Tier 2 winner.
“I have dedicated my 2013 team as a tribute to firefighters, first responders and 9/11,” says Philips, noting that one of his mowers has the names of all 343 first responders who lost their lives in the series of four coordinated terrorist attacks launched by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. area on September 11, 2001.” “No matter where you may travel across the country, you can count on firemen and first responders to be there in times of emergency.”
Phillips’ tribute is a deeply personal one.
“The passion I have for these brave men and women is wrought from my and my wife’s more than 20 years of service with our local fire department,” he explains. “I personally know the sacrifices made to work and volunteer in this field. Some people are not aware of risks involved with this service. Sometimes, we firefighters forget this as our focus is doing the job at hand, blind to the risks. Unfortunately, these brave men and women do not always get the respect they deserve, so I wanted to show my respect and share it with others.”
Phillips’ mowers, emblazoned with vivid decals bearing images of firefighters, the World Trade Center’s twin towers and the iconic American bald eagle, garner much attention from fellow racers, fans and the media at races and promotional appearances. That attention is sure to grow as Phillips’ racing aspirations continue. He’s already helped take a local annual lawn mower race to a faster, flashier and more professional level.
It began about 15 years ago when Phillips and other locals competed in race down a main street on stock mowers during Coalton Days, an annual hometown homecoming celebration. Over the years, competitors learned secret, sneaky ways to speed up their machines and up the ante in the friendly competition. When a fellow racer spotted a mower racing competition on TV, he recommended the track be move to a grass field lined with hay bales. This proved safer and lent a more exciting, “true race” feel, Phillips says.
But the real change came when Phillips, who recently was honored as the Coll Rides Online Featured Member of the Week, and wife Sarah stumbled upon a United States Lawn Mower Racing Association (USLMRA) race while traveling in Ohio.
“We were intrigued,” Phillips says. “We booked a room for the night and returned to watch the race the following day. The racers shared a lot of information with us and we were overwhelmed by the friendliness and camaraderie of everyone we met. This lit a fire under me.”
Back home, Phillips began daily research on building new, souped up racing mowers and rallied the local racers who helped mine and share information.
“When we returned to Coalton Days the following summer, the fans, which numbered 600-800, were treated to an awesome show and the race was the talk of the county,” Phillips says. From then on, the crowds turned out in ever increasing numbers, rain or shine, to watch the on-track battle and cheer for their favorites. Phillips aims to continue pushing the limits, improving and promoting the experience for Coalton racers and fans.
From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, congratulations and welcome to the team, Danny!