Saturday, February 21, 2015

Belt sander races dust up Fulton, Texas

Inspecting belt sanders before race. (Julianne G. Crane)
Prior to the beginning of the recent South Texas Belt Sander Race Association sanctioned Saturday afternoon races, hundreds of spectators milled around the 75-foot track behind the Legends Saloon in Fulton, Texas.

Cars, RVs, motorcycles and bicycles started packing the parking lot and side streets shortly after noon. Mostly Winter Texans filled the colorful bleachers, drank beer and rooted for every sander that managed to kick up a cloud of sawdust in the double-elimination races. The sun was out, a festive feel was in the air and everyone was there to have fun watching belt sanders drag races.

For the uninitiated, there are two classes of belt sanders: Stock and Modified.

First of all, however, all sanders must run on 120v power, use an unmodified factory-manufactured sanding belt (grit is driver's choice), be equipped with track guides and wheelie bars or 'outrigging' (to keep sanders centered in the 12-inch wide track), and be no more than 24 inches in length.

The "stock" class sander, says Tommie Giambernard of the South Texas BSRA, "is essentially fresh out of the box. You can make them pretty with a good paint job, but that's all."

'The belt sanders are off and racing.' (Julianne G. Crane)
The "modified" class, on the other hand, has no limits. Racers can do anything to them, as long as they stay within the general requirements (see above). Some racers have been known to spend several thousand dollars modifying the engines to go as fast as 20,000 RPMs. (The average off-the-shelf belt sander runs 1725-3450 RPMs.)

John Hillstrom, an RVer from Puyallup, Wash., wasn't doing anything fancy. "I'm just here to enjoy myself." This is his first season and he is running in the stock category. "I spent a total of $160," he said, "$80 for the sander, $20 for an extended warranty, $20 for sandpaper, $20 for outriggers and $20 for paint."

Legends Saloon (Julianne G. Crane)
If you go:
Legends Saloon
3720 N. Hwy. 35
Fulton, Texas
When: 1st and 3rd Saturday at 2 p.m., Oct.-March

Cost: Free

For more information:
South Texas Belt Sander Race Association
URL: http://sotexbsra.com

Orginally posted in February 2011, this article was updated with current information on Feb. 21, 2015. To read more about the RV Lifestyle click on RVWheelLife.com

-- Julianne G. Crane

Photo: Top: Spectators inspecting the couple dozen belt sanders lined up near the raceway's starting point. Middle: (l) Tommie Giambernard's stock belt sander noses out John Hillstrom’s entry at a Saturday afternoon race.  Bottom: Sign outside Legends Saloon in Fulton, Texas. (Julianne G. Crane)

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