When the weekend rolls around, we try to escape from the office and clear our heads. This past weekend, the big escape for many was the Clash of the Titans (Steelers/Seahawks); however, for a hard-core group of local enthusiasts, the main event happened on Saturday in not-so-far-away Jamaica Plain, MA. We're referring, of course, to the NEBSRA (New England Belt Sander Racing Association) Winter Nationals held February 4, 2006 at the "SanderDome" (Kenyon Woodworking) in JP.
Playing to a packed house (was it the free beer, or the tang of sawdust that drew them?) racers showed their stuff in the stock and modified divisions. With racers covering the required distance (2 abreast on the one-foot-wide straightaways) of 50' (stock) or 75' (modified) in times averaging 3.6 seconds, the thrills were short-lived but sweet. (Check out the blurred picture of a race in progress).
And the fans, not unlike their distant cousins at NASCAR events around the country, were well advised to stay clear of the track. This was especially true in the area beyond the finish line (see picture below) where the unwary could find themselves up close and personal with 30+ lbs. of runaway metal and sandpaper.
Although there was a shock-corded backstop to stop the BS (belt sanders) at the end of the race, some of these unwieldy beasts have been known to jump the track, and pick a random flight path into the crowd. The organizers, intent on having a safe and fun event, repeatedly warned spectators to stand back behind the red "line of death." Most complied, but some eager photographers had to be warned off repeatedly.
What caught our attention, of course, were the masterful "conversions." In this case, we're referring to a standard Craftsman or (better) DeWalt belt sander, fully tricked out (with forward and aft guidebars to stay on the tracks) and streamlined. Well, at least some were streamlined - other entries (particularly an homage to Elvis) would put Rose Parade floats to shame!
For those who missed the big event of the weekend past, we sincerely recommend that you bookmark the NEBSRA site and plan to come to the next event. Our appreciation goes out to the organizers (who support Community Servings with door donations) and to all the racers, their families and assorted camp followers who made this a spectacle for the ages.