How three subtle changes lead to big race safety improvements
The Calgary Stampede strives to be a leader in animal care practices and continues to look for improvements in safety measures. For example, Grandstand patrons enjoying the 2016 GMC Rangeland Derby may not have noticed the rule changes that went into effect this year, but these subtle changes will support the promotion and long-term sustainability of the sport of chuckwagon racing.
In 2016, we moved from a qualification process (based on the previous year’s results) to a driver invitation process. The Calgary Stampede driver invitation process is based upon the driver’s safety record, performance and sportsmanship. Each of these three factors is carefully considered based on the drivers’ experience within their respective associations throughout the season, as well as at past Calgary Stampedes. Winning an association title the previous year no longer guarantees any driver a barrel position on the opening night of racing in Calgary. Only the safest and the best drivers will be given an opportunity to participate in the GMC Rangeland Derby.
The safety of this year’s races was due largely to the tireless work completed by the Calgary Stampede track team.
Perhaps only the most devoted fans of the sport noticed the changes to our barrel placement. We slightly repositioned the barrels to give drivers more space as they make their figure eight, and clearer lanes as they exit out of the Infield and begin thundering around the track. The new placement is aimed at reducing the potential for out-of-lane infractions and wagon contact.
We also carried out magnetic particle inspections on 38 wagon poles (36 race wagons and two demonstration wagons). The inspections found a few very minor flaws. The flawed poles were repaired and re-inspected prior to racing.
Lastly, leading up to the 2016 Calgary Stampede, the track was rebuilt and repacked along the rail in an effort to provide a safer running surface for our horses, wagons, drivers and outriders. The significance of this change was made even more evident by how well the track held up against a never-ending volume of rain every day.
All of these changes, while seemingly independent of one another, contributed to the 94th Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races running as safe as possible. Credit must also be given to our 36 drivers. It’s because of them that we’re able to provide the safest possible racing while preserving the unique experience that begins when the horn sounds nightly at 8 p.m. for 10 exciting nights of the GMC Rangeland Derby.
MAKING SAFETY #1
38 WAGON POLE INSPECTIONS
REBUILT TRACK WITH A
SAFER RUNNING SURFACE