With those words, the competitors in the fifth annual
Bricklayer 500 were off and laying brick at a pace never seen
on job sites. The competition, sponsored by Spec Mix, was held
in January at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas.
Twenty teams — each consisting of a mason and a tender
— competed for the titles of world's toughest tender and
world's best (or at least fastest) bricklayer.
The challenge for the tenders was to see who could set up his
mason's workspace in the least amount of time
Among other tasks this meant carrying and stacking 1,000
bricks, which most tenders were able to do in less than 10
The rules for the masons were simple: Build a 26-foot-long
double-wythe wall within 1/4 inch of plumb and level containing
no more than 20 voids. Oh — and lay as many bricks as
possible in 60 minutes.
As a spectator, I found it hard to believe how fast the
contestants worked. It was like watching a cartoon in which
Wile E. Coyote tries to catch Road Runner by quickly bricking
up the entrance to a highway tunnel — only in this case a
truck didn't blast through the wall and run over the
But there was a truck involved. Mike Boll, this year's overall
winner, went home to Oak Lawn, Ill., with three things he
didn't bring with him: a trophy, a $5,000 check, and a
brand-new F-250 pickup truck.
Not bad pay for an hour's work. Then again, Boll laid 788
bricks. A good mason lays 600 to 650 bricks in an eight-hour
day. — David Frane