Masons traveled from far corners of the nation to compete for the World’s Best Bricklayer title, and when it was over, Ray Robinson laid 697 brick to win the top prize.
Robinson, 44, of J.A.M. Construction in Gainesville, Fla., won the 2011 SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 at World of Masonry/World of Concrete in Las Vegas in January. Robinson was the first mason to win the inaugural Florida BL500 regional competition last fall, qualifying him to compete at the national event. This was the first time he competed in Las Vegas.
Each year, 20 two-man teams comprised of a mason and mason tender have 60 minutes to complete a 26-foot, 8-inch, double-wythe brick wall while meeting strict quality standards. The competitors compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes before a crowd of as many as 3000 spectators and a webcast audience of 5000. Also honored are the second and third place finishers, the Top Craftsman who builds the “most sellable” wall, and the Toughest Tender.
Robinson has been a mason for 27 years and installs brick, block, and stone, a skill that is becoming less common. He didn’t wait long to try out his grand prize—a new 2011 Ford F-250, 4x4 XLT, V8 Super Duty CrewCab pickup truck. Robinson drove the truck home about 2400 miles with his wife and father-in-law. He also won $5000 cash, a Stihl TS 420 A-EWC Cutquik cut-off machine, and additional sponsor prizes worth thousands of dollars.
Robinson’s mason tender, Lynette Darby, also of J.A.M. Construction, was the first woman to compete in the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500.
The second place winner was Jeff Burton of Miter Masonry Construction of Cincinnati, who laid 671. His tender was his son, Raymond. Burton won $4000 cash and sponsor prizes.
Dave Moyle of Moyle Masonry in Wadena, Iowa, was just the second competitor to win two prizes in the same competition. He finished in third place by laying 625 brick, and he also won the Top Craftsman award. This award, which some consider the most coveted, is presented to the contestant whose wall the judges deem as “most sellable.” Moyle won $3000 cash and sponsor prizes for third place, in addition to $5000 cash, an EZ Grout MH-12 Little Piggy mixer, a Stihl TS 420 A-EWC Cutquik cut-off machine, and thousands of dollars more in sponsor prizes for winning the Top Craftsman award. His tender was Pat Pope of Volga, Iowa.
The event was a family affair for the Burtons of Miter Masonry Construction. Raymond Burton won $2500 cash and sponsor prizes for winning the SPEC MIX Toughest Tender competition. In this preliminary event held just before the SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500, tenders race the clock to set up a predefined work space for the masons. His winning time was 20:20:56 minutes. Raymond Burton is the son of second place winner Jeff Burton.
The competition was made up of the winners from 11 regional qualifying competitions in the U.S. and Canada. The first place and Top Craftsman winners from 2010 returned to Las Vegas to defend their titles.
The SPEC MIX Bricklayer 500 is not possible without its sponsors, which contribute cash and products for prizes.
SPEC MIX Inc.
Masonry Construction magazine
Building Lime Group
Jackson Professional Tools
Contestants must combine speed and craftsmanship during the competition.
A judge carefully measures a wall constructed by one of the contestants. Deductions are made from the total brick count if the rules of the competition are not met.
The winning trophy and brand new Ford pickup truck await the first place winner.