Local rocker drills for million-plus prize
Late last month, 31-year-old musician and contractor Zach Snider headed to Texas for an event at which he might have heard screams of "drill, baby, drill" and might even meet someone named Carl the Carpenter. But despite the timing just days before the election, this event was no political rally: it's the Irwin Ultimate Tradesman Challenge, a contest with a million-dollar-plus prize that Snider nearly won last year.
"He beat the time of the eventual winner last year," says Irwin spokesperson Adam Colborne. "But his jig wouldn't properly fit in the holes he drilled."
"When $1.26 million is on the line," Colborne explains, "it can be pretty nerve-racking."
Indeed, Snider–- who plays in the band Straight Punch to the Crotch–- admitted he was out for revenge as he went to the competition, which was held Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway during the Dickies 500. While was wielding a bass guitar the night before departure at a local Straight Punch gig, the weekend in Texas was all about the tools.
"They present you with a two-by-six," says Zimmerman, "with two marks at each end, and they give you a chalk reel, a tape measure, and an Irwin drill bit. And you snap two chalk lines and drill four holes."
Sounds simple, but accuracy counts.
"If the jig doesn't fit, then they won't count the time," says Snider. "That's what got me in Phoenix last year."
As if all that's not competitive enough, there's an added element of drama this year: Snider's business partner at Alloy Workshop, an East Market Street architecture/construction/design firm, won his own place in the competition. Thirty-five-year-old Daniel Zimmerman would actually be competing against Snider.
"It's bittersweet," says Snider. "Last year he just came along as my coach and spiritual advisor."
Alas, the two local men gunning for the top prize fell short of the times needed to advance to the final round of Irwin’s Ultimate Tradesman Challenge. According to an Irwin spokesperson, the four finalists logged times 22.57 to 25.20 seconds at the Dixie 500. Charlottesvillian Daniel Zimmerman came up just 1/100th of a second short with his time of 25.21. And last year’s near victor, Charlottesville’s Zach Snider– perhaps concerned about his disqualification last year over an unfitting jig– logged a time of 25.98.
“It’s like deciding a baseball game on a single pitch. Every now and again you’re a little off,” says Snider. I’m looking forward to next year.”
–last updated 6:01pm, November 24