Poor track conditions cancel CPCA races

Meadow Lake's Gordon McCallum races down the track during the first, and only, heat during Sunday's ill-fated CPCA races in Meadow Lake.

Meadow Lake’s Gordon McCallum races down the track during the first, and only, heat during Sunday’s ill-fated CPCA races in Meadow Lake.

by Phil Ambroziak

After spilling over to include an additional day because of rainy weather and poor track conditions, the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association’s (CPCA) 2014 Eagle Creek GM Canada Cup event in Meadow Lake ultimately ran dry Sunday evening.

Originally scheduled for July 25-27, the annual races were cancelled Friday when heavy rainfall the night before, combined with more stormy skies in the forecast, made the track unsafe for both horses and drivers. While efforts were made to run the event in full by adding another night of action July 28, it was not meant to be.
“We’re all grownups, so we go into things like this with our eyes open knowing there’s a risk involved,” remarked Bill McDougall, chair of the Meadow Lake Lions Club’s chuckwagon committee.

As per tradition, the Meadow Lake races were to be hosted by the local Lions Club. It was both Lions and CPCA officials, however, who eventually made the call to also cancel Saturday’s races and, come Sunday evening, to call the entire event off when the track still proved to be unsatisfactory.

Lions Club member Bob Nordby, meanwhile, said it isn’t the club that lost out so much because of the cancellation as it was the participants, as well as the fans who packed the grandstand at the Stampede Grounds to witness only one heat Sunday evening before things were halted.

“I thank the fans for coming to watch, it’s just too bad things turned out the way they did,” noted Loon Lake driver and CPCA president Ray Mitsuing. “A lot of this stuff, as far as weather goes, is so unpredictable. Still, this track itself is not really a wet weather track. I have to give a lot of credit to everyone involved for working their hardest to have everything ready, but – after the first heat – the track just looked terrible.”

The first heat was as action-packed as could be expected. A subsequent inspection of the track, however, revealed deep holes in the base.

“The top looked really good, but there was no base underneath,” Mitsuing added. “The horses were sinking into the dirt about six inches as they ran. If any more heats would have ran, the track would have broken right down and been completely unsafe.”

Mitsuing’s son, Devin, understood the reason for the cancellation, but was disappointed he couldn’t compete in front of the Meadow Lake crowd.

“I come from Loon Lake, so this is sort of like my home town show,” Devin Mitsuing said. “In past years, we’ve had days cancelled here and there because of rain, but I don’t recall the entire Meadow Lake event ever being called off like this before. It’s definitely not what anybody wanted.”

Ray Mitsuing, meanwhile, assured fans every effort will be taken to bring the races back to Meadow Lake next season.

The CPCA’s next stop will be this weekend in Dewberry, AB for the annual races hosted by Frog Lake First Nation.

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