Top masonry talent from coast-to-coast assembled once again in Las Vegas to compete for the title of “World's Best Bricklayer” and more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. A crowd of 4500 spectators cheered on 20 teams at the 2007 SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 competition, held during the World of Masonry/ World of Concrete.
“I can't believe how much this contest has grown – it's getting bigger every year,” said mason Mike Boll of G. Porter & Co., St. Charles, Ill., who placed 791 brick to earn first place (see related story, page XX). “It's a great tribute to all the masons.”
Established to showcase the skills and craftsmanship of masonry, the contest requires competing teams, made up of a mason and tender, to build a 26-ft-long, double-wythe brick wall in 60 min. First, second, and third place titles are awarded for the walls using the greatest number of brick, while meeting the contest's standards for quality.
A separate award, the SPEC MIX Top Craftsman, goes to the contestant who builds what judges deem the “most sellable wall” using more than 500 brick. This event is considered the second most coveted award and confers the second highest purse.
While waiting for the winners to be announced, Boll was asked which prize he and his mason tender, Ken Huizenga, were striving for. “I'm hoping to drive home,” quipped Boll, who also took first place in 2005 and second place last year. He got his wish. His first-place prizes included a 2007 Ford F-250, XLT, V10, SuperDuty, CrewCab, 4 x 4 truck with custom wheels and Baja tires. He also received $5000 in cash and thousands in other sponsor prizes.
Jeff Burton, Miter Masonry Construction, Cincinnati, Ohio, teamed up with his son, Raymond, to claim second place for his 723-brick wall. Competing for the first time in this year's contest, Burton won $4000 in cash and thousands in sponsor prizes.
The team from Morrisette Masonry, Rock Spring, Ga., swept the remaining categories. Mason Bill Morrisette was named the SPEC MIX Top Craftsman for the second consecutive year. In addition, Morrisette's 683-brick wall earned him third place overall in the national contest's first-ever dual-prize performance. Morrisette's cash and prizes, valued at more than $20,000, included a $6000 grout mixer donated in his name to a local tech school of his choice.
Alfredo Garcia, mason tender for Bill Morrisette, won the SPEC MIX Toughest Tender award. In this materials staging contest, the tenders set up the work area for the main competition according to a prescribed configuration using five mortar boards and four stacks of 1000 brick. Then they clean the stalls, sort the debris for recycling, and remove it. Garcia completed this task in 20 min, 14 sec to win $2500 in cash and hundreds in sponsor prizes.
Competitors were winners of 2006 SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 regional events or past national winners.
Rules and Requirements
- Contestants are responsible for raising quoins at each end of the wall, securing the line and pins/corner blocks, and running each course of brick. The use of metal, timber, or other profile posts, prepared brick quoins, or stopped ends is excluded.
- Contestants have 60 min before the start of the speed contest to temper and adjust their mortar.
- Before the competition begins, contestants set two courses of block with the top course laid face shell up, and one course of modular brick placed on the starter block.
- After the 60-min competition, contestants have a 5-min rest period followed by 5 min to finish the working side of the wall.
- The double-wythe wall must be running bond with return ends. Brick are cut flush with no jointing during the laying portion of the contest. Brick must be laid overhand on the back wall.
- At the end, the two wythes must be within two courses of one another.
- The top surface of the last course laid is checked for true alignment. The level tolerance over the wall length must be ¼ in. or less.
- Both ends and the face of the wall must be within ¼ in. or less of true vertical.
- All mortar bed and head joints must be cut flush on both sides of the double wall.
- Twenty voids are permitted for the entire project.
- Mortar joint thickness tolerance for bed joints is 3/8 in. ±1/8 in. Mortar joint thickness tolerance for head joints is not less than ¼ in. or greater than ¾ in.
See It Again
The edited DVD of the 2007 SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 is available on the new dedicated Web site for the competition: www.specmixbricklayer500.com.
The new DVD includes promo spots for MASONRY CONSTRUCTION MAGAZINE and an interview with Rick Yelton, editor-in-chief. The DVD is 2:32 hrs long and covers the entire event, start to finish.
The DVD also is available on the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 Web site to view as a web stream video. With minimum DSL broadband speed, you can watch the entire video free on the site.
This DVD captures the excitement and entertainment of the event, and promotes the industry in a unique way that is of interest to both seasoned masons and young people considering making masonry a career.
Read additional articles on the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500