Wagon drivers battle through a half mile of mud at Stampede

LAURENCE HEINEN, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD

The number one barrell was a real problem for a lot of the drivers including Kris Molle in heat nine at the Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon races on Saturday, July 4, 2015 at the Calgary Stampede. LORRAINE HJALTE / CALGARY HERALD

Muddy track conditions wreaked havoc on the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede on Saturday night.

In Heat 6, Layne Bremner ran over both barrels with his SNC-Lavalin wagon before getting tangled up with Mark Sutherland and his R1 Airlines Ltd outfit. Bremner’s right leader then stumbled before the first turn and the driver from Rapid View, Sask., ended up taking a no time while being assessed a $2,500 fine for interference.

The horse that stumbled was loaded onto a trailer and eventually assessed by veterinarians before being put down because of a broken leg, according to a Calgary Stampede spokesperson.

Saturday’s second heat also featured some tense moments when BJ Carey’s Professional Excavators wagon starting fishtailing in the second turn heading into the backstretch due to a broke wagon pole.

Carey pulled back so hard on his reins that he fell backwards into the box of his wagon, but he was able to stop his horses as the other three drivers headed towards the finish line.

Rookie driver Dallas Dyck went on to win Heat 2 aboard his Thermal Systems outfit in a time of 1:15.49, while a host of people ran out towards Carey to make sure that he and his horses were okay.

 Saturday’s winner came out of the first heat of the night when Colt Cosgrave raced to the evening’s fastest time of 1:12.55 aboard his Roadtrek wagon to win the top day money prize of $6,000.

“We had a good start,” said the 36-year-old reinsman from Craigmyle, Alta. “Tonight we were just fortunate enough to go out and take the rail and grab the day money. It’s a beautiful thing when you can grab that in Calgary.”

Kurt Bensmiller (Grey Eagle Resort) placed second in a time of 1:12.69 to edge out his Heat 9 competitor Obrey Motowylo (H&E Oilfield Services Ltd.) by 14/1000ths of a second.

After two days of racing Motowylo sits atop the aggregate standings with a total time of 2:23.22, followed closely by Cosgrave (2:23.67) and Bensmiller (2:23.87), the latter of whom won last year’s championship final to take home $100,000.

After the first eight nights of qualifying, the top eight drivers will advance to next Saturday’s semifinal heats. The four drivers with the fastest times will then qualify for the championship Dash for Cash on the final Sunday of Stampede.

GOOD GOLLY, KRIS MOLLE

Kris Molle was thrilled to win the Orville Strandquist Memorial Award at the 2015 GMC Rangeland Derby.

A shoe-in to take home the trophy as the only rookie driver at the Calgary Stampede last year, the 37-year-old driver from Chauvin, Alta., was still honoured to receive the accolade.

 Although Molle ran into penalty trouble on the second night of last year’s show, he still managed to finish 16th among the 36 drivers with $26,450 in earnings during the 10-day event.

“I want to take what I learned from last year and make improvements and adjustments,” said Molle, who enjoys competing against the best chuckwagon drivers in the world at the Stampede. “It’s a tight race, but it’s good to have because it keeps you pushing to get better and stronger.”

Unfortunately for Molle, he knocked over a barrel in the ninth heat and wound up taking eight seconds in penalties to finish with a time of 1:22.53. That leaves him and his VisitLethbridge.com wagon in 32nd spot overall in the aggregate standings.