Siblings Tracey and Lori Stott can come in dead last but they will always receive the biggest cheers.
The two chuckwagon drivers come from a family rooted in the sport.
At the All Pro Chuckwagon and Chariot Association races at Westerner Days, the Stott family had four wagons and four mini chucks running. The fair wrapped up on Sunday.
Both women have more than 20 years of racing experience under their belts.
They followed in the footsteps of father Jack, who also started when he was 16. Their grandfather use to drive the stage coach at the Klondike Days.
Younger brother John, brother-in-law Jonathan Big Charles and sister Karen also race.
It would not be unusual for the Stott family to have 22 horses and 12 mini chucks running on any given weekend.
“It wasn’t if you’re going to drive,” laughed Lori Stott, 38, about family expectations growing up. “It’s when you’re going to drive.”
While there’s little sibling or family rivalry on the track, sometimes there’s a “sister dash for cash,” where sponsors put up $100 for the first sister to cross the line.
The sisters still attract a lot of attention even though they have been in the sport for two decades.
Tracey, 39, broke into racing in 1992 when she became one of two female drivers on the tour. Linda Shippelt-Hubl, the other woman, is also still picking up the lines.
Over the years, a handful of other female drivers have taken up the reins.
It is not a cheap sport, say the sisters. Just horses and wagons alone would cost a new driver roughly $10,000.
Tracey said their family is unique because there are so many of them who drive, which helps trim the expenses. The horses are kept at Jack’s home in Gull Lake. The family wagons are also heavily sponsored.
“That’s all we know,” said Tracey, who is the secretary of the Canadian Chuckwagon and Chariot Association. “We don’t know any different in the summers. In the summers, you go racing.”
The women say it is the adrenalin and the people they meet that keeps them on the wagons. They cannot imagine doing anything else.
“It’s a minute and a half of adrenalin and the rest is work and sleep,” said Lori. “Then 23 hours and 98 minutes worrying about it.”
The family wagons typically finish in the Top 10.
“You know the dangers right from the beginning,” said Tracey. “You’ve seen the dangers but those are far and few between. When you are sitting behind four horses that are doing 70 km/h, yeah, you’re nervous. You let that adrenalin take over.”
Tracey was involved in a serious crash in 2012 where a driver’s horse had a heart attack during the race, resulting in a pileup of drivers, wagons and horses. Two horses had to be put down. Tracey spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from broken bones and fractures.
But it did not deter her from the sport. She said you just get back up on it, “like riding a bike.”
“There are four other drivers,” said Tracey of each race. “It’s not just you and four horses. It’s just like driving down the street. You’re watching everybody.”
The season starts the long weekend in May and ends the long weekend in September.
Lori said “a summer at the lake is not something they would ever do.”
“It’s about family,” said Lori. “It’s something our whole family can do. You’re around horses 24/7. The fun, the people that you meet.”
Jack Stott did not want to be interviewed but when asked about his daughters, he deadpanned, “I wish they would quit. It’s costing me too much money.”