View regional winners

Regional representatives from competition sites around the country last year, along with a couple of masons from outside the U.S., make up the 20 finalists for the 7th annual SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500. They will vie for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes and the title of “World's Best Bricklayer.” The competition will be held, Wednesday, Feb. 4, noon, in the Gold outdoor lot at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The 20 mason/tender teams battle to place as many bricks as possible in 60 minutes, while meeting the contest's quality parameters. Garrett Hood, McGee Brothers, Monroe, N.C., won the 2008 title by placing 791 bricks. He will be back to defend his title this year, as will Mike Boll, last year's runner-up and winner of two previous Br Bricklayer 500s.

Co Contest details

The initial phase of the Bricklayer 500 involves in the “Toughest Tender” competition. Each team's tender will lay out his mason's competition site with 1000 bricks evenly staged, along with five mortar boards and stands, water pail, and shovels for tempering the mortar. The tender that sets up the site the quickest earns the title. Shane Barclay, Rice Lake Construction, Deerwood, Minn., was last year's winner with a time of 17 minutes, 40 seconds.

After an introduction suitable for a major sporting event, complete with a red carpet and player (mason) announcements, the main event takes place. Several thousand interested show attendees, family members, and fellow masons are usually in the stands. (Sunny skies and pleasant temperatures have been the norm the past few years.)

Each mason will lay a starter wall consisting of two courses of 8-in. x 8-in. x 16-in. CMUs and one course of modular bricks before the official competition commences. The masons then have 60 minutes to build a 26-ft double-wythe wall on 1/2 running bond (39 bricks per side).

The masons must lift their own bricks and work the trowels of mortar. The bricklayer is responsible for every aspect of the wall's construction, including raising the line blocks and lines at each end of the wall, securing line pins/corner blocks, and running each course of bricks.

At the conclusion of the timed event, the masons will have a 10-minute rest period, followed by another 10 minutes to finish the working side of the wall and ends (not the backside) with any standard masonry tool. Joints are to be struck with a round (U) joint finish. Water and other liquids or cleaning agents may not be used to finish the wall.

Quality considerations

A team of veteran masons judge the walls. They check for production (number of bricks) and quality factors.

The judges will look for a 1/4 -in. tolerance for nine plumb points, 1/4-in. tolerance for three height points, 20 maximum voids, 1/4-in. tolerance for lipped brick, and 0 tolerance for bricks not laid face shell out. Head joints must be between 1/8 in. and 3/4 in., while bed joints must be between 1/4 in. and 1/2 in. The wall must conform to what is acceptable quality in the field.

Running concurrently with the count competition will be the “Craftsmanship Award.” This contest requires the masons to lay a minimum of 500 bricks with the fewest quality deductions, and pass a visual inspection by the judging panel for workmanship. A number of the masons often concentrate on winning this award rather than the number of bricks placed.

The 2008 winner of the “Craftsmanship Award” was Dave Moyle, Steve Moyle Masonry, Manchester, Iowa, who laid 652 bricks and built the wall judged “most sellable.”

Visit www.specmixbricklayer500.comzsxssxctbeduxt for more information.