Contractor games bring builders out for fun

"Daniel Lee (second from left) and Kelly Reid (third from left) ready their belt sanders for the championship sander race at Frontier Industries' Contractor Games Friday. Helping them prepare their machines are Dion McCauley (far left) and Chuck Posey (far right).Matt Johnson, staff photosWith a handbuilt race track, a few belt sanders, a big piece of wood, and some buckets and sand, building houses can become a spectator sport.Dozens of South Whidbey builders met for a construction skills showdown last Friday at Frontier Industries' Contractor Games. Held as part of the lumberyard's two-day grand opening, the games gave the builders a chance to show off their strength, their nailing skills, and their best power tools.Drawing the biggest crowd of the day was the belt sander race. With $400 going to the winner, builders lined up for the single-elimination contest. Run like a drag race on a 40-foot track, the event pitted old machines against new in low-horsepower duels. The eventual winner, Kelly Reid of Sunlight Construction, won with a brand-new, 4-inch Makita he purchased minutes before the first round of racing. His machine had the widest sanding belt in the competition by a full inch, which gave the sander more stability and speed on the track. Most of the sanders spent most of their energy bouncing back and forth inside their tracks, careening wildly at the end of an extension cord toward a well-padded finish line.After winning, Reid said he was happy to have a new sander and cash left over.I needed a new sander anyway, he said.In the nail-set competition, Crest Northwest's Rex Perkes showed that he still had a good vertical leap left over from his high school basketball days. He and the other participants jumped with magnetic framing hammer and nail in hand to see how high above their maximum standing reach they could set a nail. Perkes won with a distance of 22 1/4 inches.I used to stuff a basketball as a short guy, so I knew I could go pretty high, he said.Perkes went on to prove that he was the strongest contractor of the bunch. In the bucket-hold competition, he managed to keep a grip on two 60-pound, sand-filled buckets for more than five minutes, outlasting everyone else. Then, in the pole toss, he sent a 10-foot wood pole almost 30 feet through the air.The games drew a crowd of kids and adults who came for the free hot dogs and hamburgers at the grand opening.In addition to fun and food, a vendor raffle at the event and a car wash raised $250 for the WAIF pet adoption center. "

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