I’ve never been a big car race fan, and I am not to this day – but an experience I had some years ago made me appreciate the drivers’ skills.
I went with my son on a Cub Scout outing to a dirt-track stock car race near Milwaukee. The special guest was a NASCAR driver, who ran a race against the locals in his shiny car painted like a beer can.
He started at the back of the pack, and it was impressive to see him pick his way forward through the field, bit by methodical bit, until in the end he took the checkered flag. Trying to imagine myself doing what he did, all I could envision was the pile of twisted metal I surely would have created running at such speeds in close quarters.
I am similarly impressed when watching competitors in the NOWRA Roe-D-Hoe at the Pumper & Cleaner Expo. Here, I imagine having to be timed not with a stopwatch but with an hour-meter as I try to manipulate bowling pins, golf balls and miniature basketballs using a mini excavator bucket and joystick controls.
Yes, it’s true, I’ve never run an excavator or backhoe. Still, I would like to try my hand at the Roe-D-Hoe just to experience firsthand the difference between myself and the folks who lead these competitions.
I recall watching the fellow who excavated for the septic system at my Northwoods cottage, being amazed at the precisions and speed with which he took down trees and scooped out the drainfield trenches. I have no doubt he would have done well in the Roe-D-Hoe.
Here I must observe: What a great event this is! It’s a chance for operators to sharpen their skills by competing with their peers, and to get recognized for the excellent technicians they are. So why aren’t these contests more widespread?
Some NOWRA state affiliate organizations have Roe-D-Hoe competitions at their annual conventions. My home state of Wisconsin is one of them, and the state champion, Mark Schairer of Mark Schairer Excavating in Campbellsport, finished fourth in the national Roe-D-Hoe at the Pumper & Cleaner Expo Feb. 27-March 1 in Indianapolis.
State champions win an automatic trip to the national finals. It would be nice to see a couple dozen of those instead of just the handful we see today.
Not that difficult
While it’s difficult to duplicate what the top performers do at the controls of their machines, it’s not that hard to put on a Roe-D-Hoe. The toughest part most likely is getting an equipment dealer, manufacturer or contractor to loan out a machine. After that it’s a question of locating a space and setting up the course for the basketball, golf and bowling events. From there about all you need is a stopwatch and some bleachers.
It’s entertaining to watch these guys, and a few women, jog that excavator bucket in increments of perhaps an eighth of an inch at a time to complete the events. I imagine any operator worth his or her salt would love to have a run at this competition.
So how about it, state onsite organizations? Wouldn’t it be great to see a whole series of state champs battling it out at the nationals along with the on-site qualifiers? What a way to recognize professionalism. What a way to build camaraderie. What a way to foster interaction among practitioners from different states.
There’s plenty of time to plan and hold state competitions before the 2013 Roe-D-Hoe at the Pumper & Cleaner Expo, Feb. 25-28. Gentlemen, start your excavators!
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