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Belt sander drag racing will raise money for wounded warriors

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Belt sanders have never been more exciting.

The Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures organization has enlisted the support of several Ogdensburg bars for the city’s first ever belt sander drag racing tournament.

The first match in the tournament was held on April 27 at The Pub, 17 Commerce St., but there are still two more qualifying races scheduled and a championship round.

“We’re doing it just to have fun,” said Wade A. Morrill, owner of The Pub.

The tournament is also a fundraiser for the Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures. Robert Giordano, chairman of the Wounded Warriors organization, said his group was established to support the military community in the region.

“Our initiative is to take wounded warriors fishing, hunting, canoeing and kayaking,” Mr. Giordano said.

They’re hoping to have a good time while raising money for the organization.

For the uninitiated, belt sander drag racing is as intense as it sounds.

Two belt sanders, modified by the racers, line up at the end of a 25-foot-long wooden race track. They’re each plugged into a surge protector extension cord. When the racers get the green light, they flip the switch, sending the belt sanders flying down the track.

Mr. Giordano said it takes about three seconds for the converted racers to reach the end of the track.

“We have crashes. Some of them are smoking, flying over the end,” Mr. Giordano said.

And there’s quite a bit of strategy that goes into the creation of the belt sander drag racers.

“If you have a fine-grit sand paper, you’re not going to get traction, but if you have too much (grit) it’s going to be too aggressive,” Bill Perrault, a member of the winning Team Slushguts, said. “If it’s too light and it’s got too much torque, it’s going to fly.”

Joel Hockey, who was controlling the racer for Team Slushguts, said it’s also important to be fast off the starting line.

“You’ve got to have a quick finger,” he said.

Jill Kubick’s sander came in second at The Pub’s race.

“I’ve never built [a belt sander racer] before,” she said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

Ms. Kubick said she believes the most important factor in sander speed is deciding the type of sandpaper to use. She reckons she lost out on first place because she ran out of coarse-grit paper.

The other factor, Ms. Kubick said, is weight. Her racer weighed six pounds and was quick off the starting line.

John Clark of Ogdensburg came in third place in The Pub’s race.

The next race will be held at Howie’s Bar, 809 New York Ave., on Sunday. Registration is at noon and the race begins at 1 p.m.

A final qualifying match will be held at Duff’s Bar, 935 Ford St., on May 11. Registration is at 4 p.m. and the race will start at 5 p.m.

Mr. Giordano said entry to the races is $20 per person, and anyone with questions should contact him at 600-7533.

The championship round will be held in late May or early June, Mr. Giordano said. The final date will be decided at the last race.

Prizes from Walmart, Lowe’s and Al Smith’s Superette in Norfolk will be awarded to the champions.

And for those who are worried about not being able to design the fastest belt sander, never fear.

Mr. Giordano said Cape Air submitted a beautiful belt sander in the shape of an airplane that wasn’t able to finish.

“They won best in show,” Mr. Giordano said.

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