Drivers rake in the dough: Nolin pleased with Calgary Stampede auction results
By Gaven Crites
Meadow Lake and area wagon drivers took in a combined $590,000 at the GMC Rangeland Derby Canvas Auction in Calgary last week.
Rapid View area resident Vern Nolin led that pack with a $100,000 sponsorship for the 2013 Calgary Stampede in July.
The average bid March 21 was down from last year, something drivers expected because this year follows the 100th anniversary of the Stampede. With that in mind, Nolin said the bids were solid this year and was pleased with the outcome.
“The atmosphere that night in the auction room, for the drivers, I think everybody was pretty happy,” Nolin said.
In 2012, Nolin finished first in the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association standings and reached the Calgary Stampede semi finals. He said having success in the dirt is just as important as maintaining a good relationship with a sponsor.
“We’re all there to win and I’m sure the sponsors would sooner see their tarps cross the finish line first than last,” he said. “When you go into those auctions with nothing in line, it’s kind of a gamble what you’re going to get.”
Loon Lake CPCA driver Ray Mitsuing received an $85,000 bid, while his son Devin Mitsuing received more at $95,000.
“I was really happy with the way it turned out,” the elder Mitsuing said. “Our CPCA boys all did really well. The sale was as good as it can be.”
Rapid View’s Shane Nolin received $85,000. Meadow Lake’s Gary Gorst, who races in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, received $85,000. St. Walburg driver B.J. Carey and Meadow Lake driver Layne Bremmer each received $70,000.
Total auction proceeds were $3,605,000 – the third highest total ever. The top bid this year, $200,000, went to Grand Prairie’s Kelly Sutherland. He also garnered the top bid a year ago of $300,000.
Nolin said the Calgary Stampede is unlike any other stop on the circuit.
“The Calgary Stampede is the Grey Cup, the Stanley Cup, it’s the best of the best there,” he said. “The biggest thing is the numbers (in attendance). It takes time to feel comfortable there and tell yourself you deserve to be there. I remember going in there as a rookie, and it’s pretty overwhelming”
Now that the auction is over, it’s time to get ready for the upcoming season, Nolin added.
“We’re getting excited,” he said. “We want to get training here now. That’s the first step after the tarp auction. We’re looking to plow some fields and stuff and get these horses going hard until North Battleford.”
The first race on the CPCA circuit is May 31- June 2 in North Battleford. For the WPCA, it’s the Grand Prairie Stompede May 29 – June 2. The Calgary Stampede dates are July 5-14.