By Billy Melville
The GMC Rangeland Derby Championship at the centennial edition of the Calgary Stampede is in the books, and Troy Dorchester, along with outriders Chance Flad and Eddie Melville, emerged as the champions and $100,000 richer.
In the past few weeks, Dorchester has won the Ponoka Stampede, the Calgary Stampede Aggregate, and the Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby and has taken home two trucks and more than $200,000 in prize money.
It was the first Calgary Stampede GMC Rangeland Derby Championship for Dorchester, who completed a dream week on a cool 16°C, rainy night with sloppy racetrack conditions.
Coming off barrel number 4, Dorchester won the winner-take-all final by just one one-hundredth of a second over first-time qualifier Doug Irvine, who placed second from barrel number 1, Gary Gorst, who placed third from barrel number 3, and Jason Glass who was fourth from barrel position number 2 after receiving a two-second penalty.
Kirk Sutherland won his third day money in 10 days after posting the top time of the night with a 1:17.08, 21 one-hundredths of a second faster than Rick Fraser who placed second. Jerry Bremner was third, rookie driver Codey McCurrach placed fourth, with Kelly Sutherland filling out the top five for the night.
Dorchester also received the Calgary Stampede’s Safe Drive Award for the first time in his career for being the least penalized driver over the first nine nights of the Rangeland Derby. Codey McCurrach received the Orville Strandquist Award for top rookie driver. McCurrach won the award over John Walters and B.J. Carey.
The Equine Outfit of Excellence, which was added to this year’s GMC Rangeland Derby to honor the real stars of chuckwagon racing, was presented at the beginning of the evening. “Tycoon” of Jason Glass’ outfit was named Champion Right Leader, “River” of Mike Vigen’s outfit was named Champion Right Leader, “Skippy” of Kirk Sutherland’s outfit was named Champion Right Wheeler, “Ciano” of Hugh Sinclair’s outfit was named Champion Left Wheeler, “Smiles” of Gary Gorst’s outfit and “Max” of Rick Fraser’s outfit were named the Champion Outriding Horses.
Earlier in the day, Kelly Sutherland received the Calgary Stampede’s prestigious Guy Weadick Award, presented annually to the one chuckwagon or rodeo competitor who best embodies what the cowboy stands for, and who best typifies the spirit of the Calgary Stampede. It is based upon ability, appearance, showmanship, character, sportsmanship and cooperation with other cowboys, the arena crew, the media and the public.