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TWELVE MILE – The pair have both been riding four-wheelers through the countryside of north-central Indiana since their preschool days, so taking that into consideration, it was no surprise to watch the now teenagers dart their way through traffic in the Modified-class race at Friday's Twelve Mile 500 Lawnmower Race.
The two racers may have been competing in the famed event for the first time, but they handled the traffic, the bumping, the corner ruts, and the speed with nary a sign of being a rookie.
Yeah, the male racers did okay, themselves.
Makenna Brown and Adrianna Dague each raced among the big boys in Friday's finale and though they admitted being a tad nervous prior to the green flag being dropped, they admitted post-race to having loved every lap.
“It was intense,” Dague said afterward. “I didn't know what to think when I first went out here, but I had mechanical problems and I finished the race, and that's all that I wanted to do.”
The 15-year-old Caston High School sophomore has “racing in my blood,” as her father, Andy Dague, raced lawnmowers and mini-sprints in his earlier days. Adrianna and her 12-year-old sister, Aubrey, spotted the old racing mower in the family's barn recently and the idea to enter Friday's event was hatched.
“There are a lot worse things that she could be doing,” Andy said. “We farm, so she's around dangerous stuff all of the time.”
In the case of Dague, she at least had some time to mentally prepare for the competition. For Brown, it was just the latest in a line of adventures she chose to undertake.
A family friend (JT Hubenthal) had Brown help on his pit crew at the race a year ago, and she was caught the lawnmower racing bug (it can be contagious).
“It's fun and it's fast,” Brown said. “Last year I thought 'Oh that looks like fun.'”
Hubenthal sprung the surprise on Brown that he had a mower ready for her just prior to the Modified race, which made the recent North Miami High School graduate ecstatic, but wary.
“I'm a little nervous,” Brown said pre-race. “But they just said to have fun with it.”
That's sort of Brown's motto in life. In the past weeks, the Manchester University freshman has competed in the Miss Miami County pageant, wrestled a hog in mud (during the county fair) and now can cross speeding through trees at breakneck speed off of her ever-growing “bucket list.”
The three races (the day features classes of Briggs, Super Stock and Modified races) is still mostly guys out for bragging rights, but more and more, people of all ages – and genders – are becoming enamored with the notion of racing a mower around the ball diamond in front of family and friends.
Friday's competitors ranged from Brown and Dague to 79-year-old Bob Emery, who despite living in Twelve Mile, had never gotten on a mower to race. But after decades of serving on pit crews, he gushed “I had to do it,” after starting the Briggs race and running a handful of laps before giving way to his son, Jerome Emery.
Emery might classify as the oldest competitor in the 53rd annual version next summer, but the younger Dague just may be the youngest.
At 12 years of age, Aubrey is technically old enough to have competed this year.
“She's getting there,” Andy said of his younger daughter. “I may have two of them out here next year.”
The precocious youngster didn't lack much confidence (it runs in the family) at the thought of getting out on the dirt track.
“I'm kind of scared,” Aubrey admitted at the thought of racing next year. “But if it goes well, then I'll do it again.”