Monday, July 16, 2007

Power tool drag racing

Many years ago my younger brother heard a radio item about a new pastime called belt sander racing. Now this was a sport (?) he could get into – cheap and just weird enough to be interesting – but first he had to give it a try. He had an old commercial grade 4” belt sander and a smooth concrete floor in his garage so once he cleared a path through all the clutter he was good to go.

Unfortunately he missed the part of the broadcast where they said these belt sander racers did not carry a rider/driver.

He put on a course grit sanding belt, duct-taped the trigger closed, balanced himself on the sander, and reaching back, plugged it in. He later said that the only thing that saved him was the fact that his garage was about 20 feet longer than the cord on the sander, so most of the trip was un-powered. Nonetheless he still managed to hit the garage door with enough force that his knees and forehead left dents. That’s when he swore off belt sander racing.

It now turns out that decision may have been premature. Not only is belt sander racing still popular, but it has now morphed into the broader pursuit of power tool drag racing, complete with dozens of You Tube
videos of racing action. The New England Belt Sander Racing Association has published rules, scheduled events, and even press releases on their web site. If you want to be competitive, there are racing consultants who, for as little as $10, will tell you all you need to know to be in the winner’s circle at your next event. If you don’t want to race just your belt sander, how about your skill saw? Or your angle grinder? Chain saw? Now there are classes for power tool (well, they might have been power tools once) powered vehicles with riders, but I’d want to be sure that that 10” saw blade spinning at 7200 RPM was well separated from my more sensitive nether regions as we howled down a 75 foot track under minimal control. And don’t despair if your newest hobby starts getting too expensive because there are even corporate sponsors to be had.

I hope Greg still has that old sander around.

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