Racers, fans brave heat for chuckwagon finals
Until you have attended your first chuckwagon race, yes chuckwagon race, you don't know what you're missing. Members of about 30 teams competed in the state finals of the Arkansas Chuckwagon Racing Association Sunday at Stone Hill Ranch in Mayflower.
With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees bearing down on them, each racing team from across the state fought for every second of time in the hopes of obtaining the championship position within their class. The races are comprised of varying divisions with both small and larger wagons pulled by mules or horses varying in sizes from 46 inches to standard size. Each chuckwagon team consists of a driver, a "cook" and an "Outrider." To start the race, the official calls out "Cooks load your bedrolls," the cook loads the bed roll and jumps into the wagon followed by the sound of the gun in which the Outrider then loads the "Oven" or box before mounting his or her horse to catch up and pass the wagon before it reaches the finish line. Otherwise the team is disqualified for that particular heat.
"It's all about hanging on and making the best time," said Bobby Gill from Sue's Pawn Express racing team. Gill has been racing for five years and when asked why he races chuckwagons, "I love it; we are just a bunch of good old boys trying to have a good time." You know the saying, ask a simple question and you will get a simple answer? When asked what speeds they reach when racing, Gill said, "I have no idea; we don't have speedometers in these wagons you know."
When asked if the sport was dangerous Gill replied, "Only if you fall out of the wagon."
The Arkansas Chuckwagon Racing Association (ACWRA) sanctions the races. It has been in existence for about 16 years with a fan following continuing to grow annually.
Association President Keith Galloway of Rosebud, who races the Cedar Creek Farms team, has been racing for 15 years.
Galloway explained, "Some have dubbed the sport the NASCAR of horseracing."
When asked why racers choose to race chuckwagons most thought about it for a minute and all basically answered the same thing, "Really we do a little racing and the rest of the time we spend visiting from camp to camp. This is a family sport. That's what really matters" Galloway said.
The event was geared for family entertainment with food and activities for all, including a game of "catch the chicken" and a winner takes all horse race.
Visit www.acwra.com for more information on chuckwagon racing and next season's schedule.