Power Tool Racing Runs Again!
Building a vehicle out of beer cans and your missus’ iron may seem like a joke, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Power Tool Racing is a competition that is taken very seriously by Iscar Pacific and its clients.
Spearheaded by Nathan Stronge, CEO of Iscar Pacific and Grabatool (see helmeted), Power Tool Racing started out as a super-charged team-building exercise to strengthen the bonds between colleagues. From such humble intentions, Power Tool Racing has evolved into a full-scale competition involving multiple corporations, hundreds of man-hours, and always great fun.
The concept is simple: using a hand-held power tool, build a racer that can self-propel down a 22m wooden track. Go faster than everyone else. Don’t crash. Don’t use blades.
In terms of rules you have to agree there aren’t very many.
The result of this is a mish-mash of creative thinking: racers built from carbon fibre with aerodynamic frames, and those built from egg beaters and other appliances that stretch the definition of a hand-held power tool.
Regardless of shape or size, all power tool racers are welcomed with the expectation that they will deliver on a day of excitement.
Not only do the participants get to unleash their inner Michael Schumacher, the audience is also treated to thrills and spills. Every race demands attention along the lines of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, and indeed, some racers achieve speeds of up to 40km per hour (needless to say, the audience is kept well away from the crash-zone, as racers have been known to jump the barriers in a bid for freedom).
This year the gauntlet was thrown down on May 10th, at Buckley Systems Ltd. Fifteen teams of varied skill and experience entered in their bid to win the title ‘King of Power Tool Racing’. Many were the challengers, but only four could be crowned winners.
In the 0-0.9kW category, Chantelle Buckingham was the winner with her racer, DonutWorks. In the next power class of 1-1.9kW, the trophy was awarded to Paul Bruce with racer DeWalt n Drag. The most powerful class of power tool racers, 2kW+, was dominated by Jamie Hewlitt and his racer, Shady Llama, which also won fastest time of the day.
This was the third year in a row that Jamie Hewlett won the overall fastest speed trophy. After intense cross-examination it was revealed by Jamie that the power tool he used to dominate the competition this year (a Makita disc grinder) is the original, untampered-with tool he used for his first ever Power Tool Race.
Jamie has managed to consistently beat out the competition by following three key tenets: power/weight ratio, low cost, and reliability.
The Makita “weekend special” (as he puts it) disc grinder is just as powerful as the more expensive brands of power tools, but won’t burn a hole in your wallet. The chassis is sparing in design, with only the necessities for support and durability in place. And unlike a typical racer, the Shady Llama’s wheels run sideways to minimise drag.
All of this combined leads to a racer that means business.
That’s not to say that the challengers didn’t give Shady Llama a run for its money.
Meet Peter Bateman, team leader for Tru Design’s Kitchen Whizz power tool racer, and winner of the trophy “Most Challenged”.
Built along the same principals as Jamie’s, Peter’s power tool racer combined a lightweight tool and chassis with a strong power output for its size.
Peter was quick to assure us that his power tool was not, in fact, plundered from mum’s cupboard, but carefully selected from a range of appliances that promised a high power-output with the least amount of weight.
It took one month of after-hours for Peter and his team to put their racer together, with no modifications made to the actual power tool. Testing was done on a wooden track that the boys built themselves from the specs on the power tool racing website (powertoolracing.co.nz).
Unfortunately, the focus on its lightweight design proved to be its downfall, with a sticky track literally holding the Kitchen Whizz racer back. But it was not all doom and gloom for Peter and his team, as they were awarded the dubious honour of being the “Most Challenged”, in recognition of their racer’s efforts.
For all that his racer didn’t take home the gold, Peter is all that is enthusiasm for power tool racing. “[It’s] good to meet up with the others from different companies,” he says. “[I] go for the fun and a bit of competitiveness.” This sentiment is shared by Jamie; “it’s all about the competitive camaraderie…to have fun but also to win.” When questioned if he would recommend Power Tool Racing to others, Peter succinctly said, “Yeah, get out there!”
Power Tool Racing is an annual competition run by Iscar Pacific and Grabatool. For more information, see the website: www.powertoolracing.co.nz