For a closer look at the wildest repurposed rigs, launch the photo gallery by clicking ‘View Photos’ at left. And to see what happens when the power-tool racers come across a gas-powered ring of fire and a few cold beers, see the video at the bottom of the page.

It´s a rocket. Stuck through the back of a skull, sitting on an aging belt sander rigged to a pair of sawed-off skis. And it can haul butt down a track.

Scott David and his 10-year-old son, Cal, built El Diablo del Muerte (â€the Devil of Deathâ€) for last summer´s first annual Seattle Power Tool Drag Race and Derby. Inspired by earlier events in New England and the Bay Area, such races are now popping up around the world. The rules are simple: Build something that gets its drive from a handheld power tool (loosely defined). Each race pits two rigs against each other on wooden tracks, 60 feet long and one foot wide. The winner is the first to reach the end, but judges value originality as much as speed.

Besides El Diablo, the Seattle race featured a papier-mch gremlin on a mini motorcycle and a rocket-powered toaster with AOL CDs for wheels. The gutsiest was an angle grinder/Rollerblade hybrid that launched off a ramp and nearly landed in the bed of a pickup truck down the block. El Diablo won several heats, but Cal is already looking ahead. Next year, he´s thinking his entry ought to shoot ping-pong balls.

Want to Race?

Several upcoming events give you a chance. Or start your own race, and tell us about it at

New England: February

San Francisco: May;

Seattle: July;

U.K.: TBD;

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by John B. Carnett

The True Grit Hog’s profile: built for speed!

by John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

by John B. Carnett

What happens when the power tool racers come across a gas-powered ring of fire, the fall of night and a cold beer or two? Check out the video here.

Old Killdoggie

Builder: Rusty Oliver
Tool: Angle grinder
Time: 8 hours
Cost: $20
Propulsion: A modified grinder spins the front wheel. Two sets of inline-skate wheels press against the walls of the track, keeping Killdoggie headed straight.
Power: 15 amps
Accolades: Jesus Built My Hotrod award

by John B. Carnett

Mike Begley with The Lone Skilsaw of the Apocalypse

by John B. Carnett

Rusty Oliver is the man behind Old Killdoggie

by John B. Carnett

We can’t think of a better way to repurpose an old belt sander.

El Diablo del Muerte

Tool: Belt sander
Time: 30 Hours
Cost: $35
Propulsion: The Davids ignite the rocket, then switch on the sander, which turns two remote-control-car tires, coated in spray adhesive for better grip.
Accolades: Just Plain Wicked award

by John B. Carnett

Another look at Rusty Oliver’s Old Killdoggie

The Lone Skilsaw of the Apocalypse

Builders: Mike Begley and Josh Michaels
Tool: Circular saw
Time: 25 hours
Cost: $75
Propulsion: A car fan belt connects a modified Skilsaw to two wheelchair wheels, creating the drive. Inline-skate wheels spin freely in the rear.
Power: 11 amps

by John B. Carnett

El Diablo’s del Muerte creators, Scott David and his 10-year-old son Cal

True Grit Hog

Builders: Don Martin and Su Grill-Martin
Tool: Belt sander
Time: 70 hours
Cost: $80
Propulsion: The sander sits flat against the track in the back, providing drive. Two inline-skate wheels up front keep it pointed toward the finish line.
Power: 10.5 amps
Accolades: Undefeated for the day

by John B. Carnett

A closer look at the fan belt/Skilsaw drivetrain.