Chucks notes: Loud crowds pump up Rangeland Derby drivers

LAURENCE HEINEN, FOR THE CALGARY HERALD

 

Stampede Park track announcer Les McIntyre has been known to turn a phrase or two.

He often likes to say “the faster you cheer, the quicker they’ll get here” when the chuckwagons competing in the GMC Rangeland Derby make the fourth and final turn and head down the homestretch.

Both drivers and horses alike actually appreciate that McIntyre gets the crowd fired up for the finish.

“When you turn that fourth turn, you can actually hear the crowd,” said Obrey Motowylo, who sits second in the aggregate standings after the first four nights of racing. “It actually makes the horses go quicker. They like to show off too. That’s just the way it is and they love doing what they do. When there’s a lot of noise it motivates them to compete harder against each other.”

Defending Rangeland Derby champion Kurt Bensmiller also likes it when the crowd claps and cheers loudly.

“When those fans start really rolling and the grandstand starts rumbling, we can definitely hear them,” said Bensmiller, who has enjoyed competing against Motowylo this season. “Obrey came in tough right from the start of the year in Grande Prairie (at the Stompede) and he won it there. We’ve been battling it out, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

In each of the first four nights, Motowylo (H&E Oilfield Services) raced in the ninth heat and compiled a total time of 4:46.60, which is 1.39 seconds behind Bensmiller (Tsuu T’ina Nation) for top spot in the aggregate standings. The drivers will now be reseeded with the fastest wagons (without penalties) running in the later heats for the next four nights.

In contention to qualify among the top eight drivers who will compete in the final two heats on Semifinal Saturday, Motowylo is happy to be in contention at this year’s Stampede.

“Obviously because there’s so many fans watching and it’s on TV, you can’t help but try to push yourself to be better,” said the 42-year-old reinsman from Bluffton, Alta. “To win it any year would be great. The way the horses are working, you never know. You can’t predict what’s going to happen. I just take it day by day. Just stay clean is the main thing — just try to stay cool and calm and let the horses do the work.”

MCCURRACH SETS QUICK PACE

Aboard his Rocky Mountain Catering rig, Codey McCurrach served up Monday night’s best time of 1:10.33 in the third heat to win the top day money prize of $6,000.

Jamie Laboucane (Canada’s Energy Citizens) finished just 3/100ths of a second behind McCurrach in second spot to win $5,200.

Logan Gorst (Mulvey and Banani) compiled a time of 1:10.66 in the fifth heat to finish third, while Bensmiller ended up in fourth spot on the night in 1:10.76.

Mike Vigen (Nakoda Oil & Gas) currently sits third in the aggregate standings with a total time of 4:47.09, while Colt Cosgrave (High River Auto Plex & RV) is just 34/100ths of a second behind in fourth spot overall heading into the fifth night of racing.