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Chuckwagon racing historian at Books & Company Saturday

Prince George author Glen Mikkelsen has written the definitive history

Prince George author Glen Mikkelsen has written the definitive history of the chucks and how a tradition passed down through generations of Canadian prairie families has lured 11 million spectators to attend the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

Mikkelsen, a Calgary native and former Ice Stampede participant, talks to the mothers and wives and takes readers behind the scenes into the barns to get inside the heads of the drivers and outriders who compete for the richest, most prestigious payoffs in the Super Bowl of the sport.

Mikkelsen’s interviews with the likes of Kelly Sutherland, Kurt Bensmiller, Iris Glass, Hugh Sinclair and race announcer Les McIntyre uncover the truths about why they do what they do at reckless speed, risking broken bones and cheating death.

The book traces the origins of a sport that dates back to the open-country cattle drives of the old west, when camp cooks hauling the cookstoves (chucks) made bets to see who could race back to set up camp first, and how showman Guy Weadick sold the Stampede brass on pairing chuckwagon racing with rodeo to create an annual fair like no other.

Mikkelsen reveals the business side of a professional sport that involves entire families in a collective effort to cover the cost of buying just-past-their-prime racehorses and provide the care that goes into training teams of 15 or 18 equine athletes bred to run. He tells the story of how drivers came to depend on the canvas tarp auctions that bring millions of sponsorship dollars annually into the sport.

The book provides a primer on the rules of racing, how races are judged and how those rules have evolved to make the sport safer.

Printed by Folklore Publishing, the Rangeland Derby – 100 Years of Chuckwagon Racing at the Calgary Stampede is on sale now at Books & Company. Mikkelsen will be at the store at 1885 Third Ave, from 10 a.m. – noon this Saturday to sign copies of his book, which sells for $29.95.

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