TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s considered the ‘Super Bowl of Masonry’, the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 showcases one of the oldest professions in a fast-paced and fun way.
The Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 is all about who can lay the most brick, with the least amount of deductions in one hour.
According to Fred Campbell, a Greeneville native who often competes in these tournaments, it’s a 27-foot long wall that’s double-width, meaning you have to lay brick on each side. While some may lay the most, in the end, it’s judged on how much brick and how sellable the wall is.
Back in 2020, Fred Campbell laid 756 bricks and took home his third world championship title. Campbell said he got into the competition about ten years ago when he stumbled upon it online.
In all, the competition has been taking place for 19 years, with Campbell qualifying for the tournament 11 times and holding first place world titles in 2013, 2015 and 2020.
Not only is he representing Greeneville, but he’s also the only person who has won a title in the state of Tennessee. Speaking of titles, he’s also the first-ever three-time champion and will be going for his fourth win this year.
However, even if he does win this year, he will not pursue a 5th championship title.
“This is going to be my last time. I’m going to retire from doing it after this year, so there’s a lot on the line for me this year,” said Campbell.
Greg Hutchinson the Marketing and Communications Spokesperson for Spec Mix said, “He’s a tremendous ambassador, not just for the event, but Masonry as well. I know he’s definitely taken this opportunity to be on the national stage to then go back into his community and really get another generation of young masons excited.”
While Campbell prepares to defend his “World’s Best Bricklayer” title, he hopes that this profession continues to live on not only throughout the United States but especially right here in East Tennessee.
“Every building you see is brick or block and a lot of the newer ones are brick and block, and it’s been a family business, handed down through generations, and it’s kind of starting to be a dying trade now. It’s hard to find guys to get into it. The biggest thing about the competitions is they draw in the younger generations and get them thinking about a career in masonry,” said Campbell.
Hutchinson said currently, there is a major push to find a new generation of craftsmen as skilled labor is getting tougher to find.
“It’s always been a way to get people energized about the industry. It’s always been a workforce development tool,” he said.
Campbell said his father was a mason and got him into it at the young age of 10 years old. For 31 years, he’s owned creative masonry and has carried out the skill used by his father and the generations before him. He said he hopes younger people are also drawn into the craft like he was.
The 2021 Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 World Championship will be held in Las Vegas on June 9. The event will be live-streamed here. The stream will kick off at 11:45 a.m. eastern, with the actual competition starting at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
Hutchinson said following the competition, walls are broken down and usable leftover materials are donated to Habitat for Humanity.