2015 World Champion Chuckwagon Driver
Kurt Bensmiller was the big winner last night.
A night of celebration took take place at the Grey Eagle Casino in Calgary with the 35th annual World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) Awards Gala that honored those who achieved greatness this past season, as well as those who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the most exciting professional sport in the world today. The evening was a tremendous success, with one of the highlights being the welcoming words of inspiration from Councilor Dean Manywounds on behalf of Chief Roy Whitney of the Tsuu T’ina Nation, which set the tone for the evening.
Video presentations highlighting the 2015 season and all the champions were well received by a near capacity crowd. As well, the WPCA remembered those who "went west" over the past year which included former chuckwagon driver and outrider Chief Gordon Crowchild, judge Charlie Supernault, former chuckwagon driver and outrider Don Van Eaton, active supporter Justin Normandin, former WPCA MArketing Manager John Higgins, and former chuckwagon drivers John Crawford and Harold Chapin.
Kurt Bensmiller was the top honoree this year as he captured the World Chuckwagon Championship for the 1st time in addition to being the winner of the WPCA Clean Drive Award as well. As well, Chance Flad was the 2015 World Champion Outrider for the second consecutive year. Rae Croteau Jr. was the winner of the GMC Sierra Cup Series for being the top pointed driver at the Grande Prairie Stompede and Battle of the North combined.
The Jim Bottomley Trophy given to the WPCA Chuckwagon Person of the Year is the WPCA’s highest annual honor. This year’s recipient being longtime chuckwagon supporter John Lee receiving the prestigious award.
Longtime chuckwagon supporter Reg Willick received Special Recognition for the work and special contributions he has made to the WPCA, its members, and Chuckwagon racing in general.
The WPCA Special Tribute was given to former World and 3-time Calgary Stampede Champion Dave Lewis. Doug Irvine received the Herman Flad Memorial Award for Most Improved Driver Award, while Quaid Tournier received the Rod Glass Memorial Award for Most Improved Outrider. Dustin Gorst was named the WPCA's Top Rookie Driver, and Cole Somerville received a buckle in memory of former outrider Greg Gillard to commemorate his being named the WPCA Top Rookie Outrider.
The horses also shared in the awards through the WPCA Equine Outfit of Excellence. Kirk Sutherland’s “CHIEF” was named the champion Right Leader for the second consecutive year, Evan Salmond's "COMET" was named the champion Left Leader, Jason Glass' “MOOTOO” was named the champion Right Wheeler and Colt Cosgrave's "BAFFERT" was named the champion Left Wheeler. The champion Outriding Horses were Gary Gorst’s "VICTORY" and Kurt Bensmiller's "BOONE."
Other award winners included Import Tool Corp. Ltd., Raymond Scott and the Grey Eagle Casino who each received a WPCA Active Supporter Award, the Grande Prairie Stompede received the WPCA Top Race Committee Award, Country 99 FM in Bonnyville received the WPCA Media Award, Jaycee Gorst received the Ty Tournier Memorial Award, and WPCA Merchandise Manager Ken Malvin again mad a special presentation to Camp Carmangay.
The event, hosted by track announcer Les McIntyre was a tremendous success, and congratulations to all the 2015 champions and award winners.