The Wild Story of the Man Who Rode 4K Miles on a Lawn Mower

Brad Hauter managed the feat in 1999
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2022 3:39 PM CDT
The Wild Story of the Man Who Crossed the US on a Lawn Mower
Yes, Hauter mowed lawns along the way, including some famous ones, like in front of the Lincoln Memorial.   (Getty Images / Dmytro Varavin)

It all started with a forwarded email. In the late '90s, lawn-care company MTD Products Inc. was on the hunt for one person crazy enough to ride the company's Yard-Man riding mower across America, with the goal of raising $200,000 for charity in the process. A co-worker sent Brad Hauter an email advertising the search. He interviewed for months, clinched the spot, and departed Atlanta on a 4,000-mile quest—on a lawn mower that was souped up so it could go up to 25mph, not the standard 8—on April 7, 1999. Writing for Mel Magazine, Quinn Myers recaps Hauter's journey and indefatigable determination. He made the trip surrounded by quite the entourage: a pacer van, a PR team that managed the dozen-plus interviews he did a day, and a tractor trailer holding everything from a bathroom to spare parts.

But there were long stretches where it got dull, and Hauter says the team at one point came up with the idea of testing the mower's speed by putting it in neutral while going down the mountains, which he tried in Utah. Thing was, he quickly learned the brakes were designed to handle 8mph speed. He found himself unable to brake while going 60mph as he neared a turn that advised a 25mph limit—and had no guardrails. Rather than flip the mower, he bailed. The mower went over the edge, and he had to be airlifted to New Mexico with a broken arm. That said, he did manage to finish on a new mower. He reached Santa Monica, Calif., pier 67 days later having raised $250,000 for the Keep America Beautiful organization. (Read the full story, which includes an interview on the Rosie O'Donnell Show that didn't go so well.)

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