File photo by ADVOCATE staff Lee Adamson drives past the finish line at the Westerner Days North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships last year. The 18th annual Red Deer Motors North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships starts on July 18.

Chuckwagons and chariot races expected to bring big-time entertainment to Westerner Days

The Alberta Professional Chuckwagon and Chariot Association is eager to bring their show back to Red Deer.

This year marks the 50th season for the APCCA and second-year president Dwayne Dubuc said it’s been a goal to have their product on display at Western Days.

“For many of us, it is going to be a reunion of a long time since we’ve been there,” Dubuc said.

“For others, it’s going to be the first time. You’re going to find a whole new excitement and just a fresh outlook on the event. It is a premier event of chuckwagon racing no matter what association has it.”

For the last 14 years, it has been the All-Pro Canadian Chuckwagon Association that has hosted the racing in Red Deer.

The 18th annual Red Deer Motors North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships take place from July 18-22, where 40 competitors will battle for the top prize over five days. Chariot races will also be a new addition to the agenda Friday, Saturday and Sunday this year.

Dubuc said the audience in Red Deer who haven’t seen chariot racing before are in for a special show this year. In total, 20 chariots will be divided into five heats and compete each day at Westerner Days before the chuckwagons. Drivers had to qualify to participate in the event.

The chariots are pulled by two horses and are typically lighter than chuckwagons, allowing for faster barrel turns and hard charges to the finish line.

“The quickness in the barrels because the chariot is so light, they can just whip around. If you’re turning the barrels with a 550-pound wagon and a 200-pound man in it, it’s going to take more power,” Dubuc said.

“When you see the chariots turning you’ll be amazed at how quickly they can turn on a dime. Often, because you try and make everything as light as you possibly can, you’ll see them up on one wheel and (the driver) shooting across the chariot.”

The APCCA president also noted that they’ve really tried to make their circuit a more engaging experience for the audience. He said they’ve tried to get the drivers out on the community and interacting with the audience whenever they can.

We’re really trying to make it a personal experience for people,” Dubuc added.

“Other than just sitting there in the stands. We want everybody to be involved. That just came from that understanding that nowadays there’s so much for people to do.”

The races are set for July 18,19, 20 and 21 at 5 p.m., with the finals on Sunday at 1 p.m.

*This article previously stated that the chuckwagon races will take place over three days from July 20-22. The races will take place from Wednesday, July 18 to 22 over five days. The Advocate regrets the error.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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