Sanders race at record speeds in Freeland

FREELAND — The stakes were high. The winner of the Belt Sander Race at Frontier Building Supply in Freeland walked away $300 richer and with bragging rights beyond the island’s shores.

Mike Foley is named the winner of the Hawaiian shirt contest during Frontier Building Supply's

FREELAND — The stakes were high.

The winner of the Belt Sander Race at Frontier Building Supply in Freeland walked away $300 richer and with bragging rights beyond the island’s shores.

The lumber yard held its annual Big Kahuna Belt Sander Race Friday. The company has put on the races for the past seven years and the event has been growing in size and popularity.

This year 24 racers signed up for the contest, said saleswoman Diane Willis.

In this fiercely competitive sporting event, two belt sanders raced against each other, and based on the “sudden death” principle, the weaker ones dropped out and the winners moved on.

It took some real grit to win the race.

The “belt operators” picked a grain of sandpaper that they believed would propel them to victory, and some added a little extra power to their machines.

“Some add a little to beef up the sander,” Willis said. “Sometimes they crash.”

The team of Frontier Building Supply set up a 30-foot-long race track, complete with a buffer zone at the end of the track.

The machines were hooked up to long extension cords. With a flip of a switch, the race was on.

A radar gun at the end of the track clocked the racers. Speeds exceeded 15 mph, but the average speed was about 8 mph.

“Our contractors love this event and are quite serious about it,” Willis said.

This year’s fastest belt sander belonged to Chris Ceci, who also won $300 in prize money. Kelley Reid came in second and won $200.

The competition was open to any Freeland contractor or Frontier Building Supply customer.

About 150 people came out to see the races on Friday. They enjoyed hot dogs, burgers and ice-cold drinks while browsing vendor booths.

True to this year’s Hawaiian theme, a Hawaiian shirt contest was held. Winner Mike Foley got a $75 check and a six-pack cooler for his winning ensemble.

But the competition was fierce. The runner-up wore a replica of Tom Sellek’s “Magnum PI” signature shirt.

Frontier Building Supply is located at 1800 Main St., Freeland. For more information, call 331-1711 or check out the Website at

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or mmarxwheatley@southwhidbey

More in Business

Celebrate everything rabbit-related during Bunny Daze, March 26-31

Spring has sprung, and so have the bunnies. Celebrate the furry creatures… Continue reading

Langley chocolatier Mona Newbauer offers a wide variety of gourmet chocolates in her shop, Sweet Mona’s. Some of those chocolates will make their way to Coupeville Saturday for the annual Chocolate Walk. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times
Chocolate Walk tickets selling quickly

A handful of tickets remain available for Saturday’s Coupeville Chocolate Walk. For… Continue reading

Seed farm grows with online store | CORRECTED

The growth of Deep Harvest Farm has been measured and intentional. Owners… Continue reading

The Braeburn set to expand restaurant space in Langley

An expansion has been “long overdue” at The Braeburn, according to the… Continue reading

Whidbey Island Natural closes Langley storefront

After 17 years on First Street in Langley, Whidbey Island Natural is… Continue reading

Whidbey Coffee gets new facility, director

One of Whidbey Island’s homegrown businesses is getting a double shot of… Continue reading

Island Herb in Freeland donates half of Nov. 28 sales for Giving Tuesday

Island Herb owner Lucas Jushinski is donating green of a different kind… Continue reading

Whidbey Tire Auto set to close its doors after decades of service

After serving South Whidbey since 1980, Whidbey Tire & Auto owner Dana… Continue reading

Langley flower shop was inspired by ‘farm, forest and the sea’

By LORINDA KAY Special for The Record When you walk into the… Continue reading

Langley jewelry store takes inspiration from the sea

Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Alexa Allamano has always been fascinated by the… Continue reading

Freeland business owners scoop up Whidbey Island Ice Cream Co.

Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company has new owners. Steve and Jill Rosen,… Continue reading

South Whidbey pie maker carves out slice of success

Heidi Hammer is known for her pies. Initially a treat she baked… Continue reading