‘Machines of Glory’ contestants dish on winning equipment rodeo

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Jan 4, 2013
Equipment operators and “Machines of Glory” contestants (L to R) Justin West, Tom Gardocki and Chris Guins.
Equipment operators and “Machines of Glory” contestants (L to R) Justin West, Tom Gardocki and Chris Guins.Equipment operators and “Machines of Glory” contestants (L to R) Justin West, Tom Gardocki and Chris Guins.

After keeping their contractual silence for nearly a year, equipment operators Chris Guins, Tom Gardocki and Justin West can now claim their proper bragging rights: their “Young’uns” team won their segment of the “Machines of Glory” show, which aired Sunday night.

The Discovery Channel show pitted three different teams of operators in extreme equipment rodeo situations. Guins, Gardocki and West, who formed the Red Team, went up against a team of mature, California-based operators dubbed “The Old Timers,” and a crew called “The Boston Boys.” In speed, skill and power tests, the teams used a fleet of Cat machines in the competition.

The three operators’ presence on social media gained the show producers’ attention during their search for competitors. Gardocki, whose “Bobcat Ninja” Facebook page features videos of his compact excavator skills, was already acquainted with Guins and West, each sharing a fascination with videotaping their operating skills. The trio soon found themselves headed to Sun Valley, CA, to tape the show last January – and met each other face to face for the first time.

Guins, who works with his uncle in Guins Excavating Service outside of Raleigh, NC, lives just 30 minutes from West, who works his father’s firm, Marion West and Son. It’s unlikely, however, they would have met Gardocki, who works with his father in Interstate Landscaping, Londonderry, CT, without YouTube.

Once in California, the operators filmed for three days. “We did things you would never get to do on the jobsite,” Gardocki says. The team challenge required strategy that didn’t make it in front of the cameras. “We had to determine who was best on each machine.”

While all three teams talked smack at each other during the filming, Gardocki says there was great camaraderie after hours, with the competitors sharing how the same type of work is approached in different parts of the country. “We met a lot of great people,” West says.

And with 30 hours of filming edited down to 40 minutes, adds Guins, “there was a lot you didn’t get to see.” One aspect of the experience proved puzzling: “They questioned you to death on why you did something a certain way,” Guins says. “We’ve all ran equipment our whole lives and don’t reason out every step.”

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But the part that had to be the most frustrating for these three video buffs: the lock down on any cameras and video cams on the set. For winning their segment, though, the rewards were sweet: a shared $12,000.