When the World Professional Chuckwagon Association decided to move their world championship to Edmonton last year, it took away some of the luster off the Red Deer show.
But WPCA general manager Kelly Carson of Bragg Creek feels the Red Deer championship plays a significant role on the circuit.
“This has become almost more of an exciting race, because the championship is almost over by the time we get to Edmonton,” said Carson following the opening night of the Red Deer show Thursday at the Westerner.
“I think that’s why tonight you witnessed such good racing and when the fans get out of their seats it warms my heart. And we had a good crowd tonight.”
The four-day Red Deer show is the final event prior to the world championship in Edmonton and the last chance for the field to move closer to points leader Jason Glass of High River.
Glass came into Red Deer with 1,181.5 points and a 28 point lead on Obrey Motowylo of Tofield. But all Glass did Thursday was move another point up on Motowylo, winning day money with a time of one minute 15.97 seconds on his Birchcliff Energy rig.
Motowylo finished second to Glass in the ninth and final heat in 1:16.09 with the H & E Oilfield Services wagon.
The track was in perfect shape as the rain held off, something that wasn’t the case during the four years the association held their championship in Red Deer.
“The track is great as long as it doesn’t rain, which wasn’t always the case,” said Carson, who said the facility had nothing to do with them moving to Edmonton.
“(The move) gives us more room and also gives us one more show,” he said. “What did play a little role in the move was that we, the WPCA, run this show ourselves. We rent the facility and rent the buildings and provide all the security. It’s a big job and tough to organize as there’s not many people (in our organization) from here, although this year we had a couple of volunteers, who did a good job, which you can see in the crowd.”
Despite some talk last year that Red Deer wasn’t in the WPCA’s plans, that’s not true said Carson.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “This is the only weekend they can accommodate us, but we certainly don’t want to lose it.”
And who knows Red Deer could regain the championship if they were to bid on it in when it comes up for tender in two years.
There’s no doubt the association will be going full speed ahead in two years. The present economic situation has had little affect on the tour.
“You can see a bit in tarp sales, but crowds are up everywhere we go,” said Carson. “Because of the economy people are staying closer to home and don’t mind paying $10-$15. Where else can you get this much entertainment for $15.”
Rae Croteau Jr. of Bonnyville, who holds the track record of 1:14.01, finished third Thursday with a 1:16.28 on the Highwood Distillers rig while Luke Tournier of Duck Lake, Sask., drove the Glencoe Resources rig to a 1:16.38 time.
Lincoln Douglas of Rosedale, B.C., holds down fifth place on the Southwest Contracting wagon following a time of 1:16.53 with Reg Johnstone of Bashaw in sixth at 1:16.60 on the Custom Coach Autobody wagon.
Tim Haroldson of Melfort, Sask., drove the Platinum Homes and Developments and Goodman Roofing sponsored rig to a 1:16.85 clocking which left him in seventh place just ahead of Brian Mayan of High River, who came in with a 1:16.96 on the Two Way Oilfield Services outfit.
Kelly Sutherland of Grande Prairie, who is third in the world standings with 1,129 points, finished ninth at 1:17.10 on the Underground Oilfield Consulting wagon with 10th going to Troy Flad of Warburg on the Ironwood Building Systems wagon. Flad finished in 1:17.32.
Action continues tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.