Spirited competition and enthusiastic crowds prevailed at regional sites around the country as masons began their journey toward earning the title “World's Best Bricklayer.” Winners of these events earned a free trip to the upcoming World of Masonry/World of Concrete in Las Vegas and entry into the January 23 national finals of the 6th annual SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500.
Michael Boll, G. Porter Masonry, St. Charles, Ill., the 2007 winner and 2006 runner-up, captured the Chicago regional and will return to defend his title. His brick count of 724 was the highest figure among the regional winners. Two other finalists from last year won their regionals and will join Boll in Vegas – Phillip Veal, R&G Masonry Contracting, Jonesboro, Ark. and Ryan Foley, Foley Masonry, Hayti, S.D.
The Bricklayer 500 competition will feature 20 mason/tender teams striving to place as many bricks as possible in 60 minutes, while meeting the contest's quality parameters. The participants will compete for more than $150,000 in cash and prizes, including a 2008 Ford F250 SuperDuty truck.
The exciting afternoon of competition kicks off with the “Toughest Tender” contest. Each team's tender will lay out his mason's competition site with 1000 bricks evenly staged, along with five mortarboards and stands, water pail, and shovels for tempering the mortar. The tender that sets the site the quickest will earn the title.
The main event takes place after the tenders have set the stage. 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. The masons have 60 minutes to build a 26-ft double-wythe wall with a minimum of 500 bricks. They must lift their own bricks and work the trowels of mortar from the five mortarboards and stacks of product. Each bricklayer is responsible for every aspect of the wall's construction, including raising the line and pins, striking joints, and filling voids.
At the conclusion of the competition, the masons will be given 10 minutes to finish/tool the working side of the wall. They will be able to use any combination of tools, with the exception of liquids or cleaning agents. (In previous years, they were given 5 minutes and allowed only a striking iron [S jointer] and brush.)
A panel of veteran masons will then judge the walls for production (number of bricks) and workmanship.
The judges will check for a ¼-in. tolerance for 9 plumb points, ¼-in. tolerance for 3 height points, 20 maximum voids, ¼-in. tolerance for lipped brick, and zero tolerance for bricks not laid face shell out. Head joints must be between ? in. and ¾ in., while bed joints must be between ¼ in. and ½ in. The wall must conform to what is acceptable quality in the field.
Running concurrently with the “speed” 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.
- Mason: Justin Jakubsion
- Tender: Damian Miller Pyramid Masonry Broadview Heights, Ohio
- Brick count: 567
- Mason: Aaron Cooke
- Tender: John Klump Pyramid Masonry Broadview Heights, Ohio
- Mason: Ray McDermott
- Tender: Leo Mullen Selway Masonry Denver, Colo.
- Brick count: 522
- Mason: Gilberto Madera
- Tender: Jesus Madera Fischbach Masonry Denver, Colo.
- Mason: Dave Moyle
- Tender: Pat Pope Steve Moyle Masonry Manchester, Iowa
- Brick count: 610 This team also won the Craftsmanship Award.
- Mason: Philip Veal
- Tender: Billy Fitzpatrick R&G Masonry Jonesboro, Ark.
- Brick count: 575
- Mason: Michael Hudgins
- Tender: Ryan Hudgins Hudgins Masonry Chesapeake, Va.