- Belt Sander racing is not only real but growing in popularity.
- The sport works like a miniature drag race. Two or more competitors line up belt
sanders along parallel tracks before receiving the signal to go. Whoever finishes
- Accuride founded the Belt Sander Racing Association, arguably the most
prominent league in the field. The association eventually held annual
competitions at the AWFS Fair in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
There are whole leagues dedicated to this unique sport. Like automotive races, these events host multiple classes. Those classes tend to fall into one of two categories: Stock, for sanders unchanged from the factory, and modified for those customized for better performance.
There are various claims to precisely when this sport launched. A story put forth by one group contends that it sprang up in the late 1980s in Washington State. Regardless of precisely when it started, belt sander racing appears to be an American invention.
Scenes from the BSRA national competition at AWFS Fair 2007
Obviously, there’s tremendous humor that goes into the race, but there’s also a healthy deal of creativity. Competitors show tremendous ingenuity in their creations. Belt sanders can provide some spectacular sights as well, with wood and dust flaring out from behind these micro-sized dragsters.
Indeed, the sport works like a miniature drag race. Two or more competitors line up belt sanders along parallel tracks before receiving the signal to let loose. Whoever finishes first wins. In some instances, contestants can even ride on belt sanders—though, generally, the sanders race without passengers.
Bertie’s Inn of Pennsylvania hosts a yearly belt sander racing competition. Above is video from the 2007 event.
In some places, belt sander racing has fostered a sub-culture and become a local tradition. Bertie’s Inn, a charming award-winning restaurant in Reading, Pennsylvania, hosts an annual belt sander racing event. This year’s event, the twenty-eighth thus far, will be sure to draw hundreds of spectators when it’s held on July 14.
Texas, too, has become a sort of mecca for the field as well, being home to champion builder Dudley Harper and his legendary belt sander Sudden Death. Sudden Death ran a 25-yard track in just over two seconds!
It may surprise you to know that Accuride played a part in the popularity of this sport. The company founded the Belt Sander Racing Association, arguably the most prominent league in the field. BSRA invited contenders from across North America to compete in Las Vegas. The association eventually held those annual competitions at AWFS Fair in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
You might be wondering: This is absurd—I want in! How do I start? There are some helpful online resources on belt sander racing, from building a winning example to local organizations that host events, to profiles on some radical creations.
Have you ever seen a belt sander race? What other power tools could you see used in racing? Send your comments our way via the blog or by social media. Just click on the social media platform of your choice below!