The dust will soon be flying and the wheels will be turning as the Eastern Professional Chariot & Chuckwagon Associations hits the track for 2021.
Association vice-president Shayne Salmond said drivers are looking forward to getting back to racing, adding 2020 was a lost year for most because of COVID-19.
“There were still some guys using local tracks that got some runs in (in 2020), but for the most part last year was a loss,” he told Yorkton This Week.
But, they are ready to go this summer, assured Salmond.
“For the most part I think teams will look the same,” he said, adding most drivers just kept their horses fit and enjoyed them in the off year, with hopes of running this summer.
“I think everybody was really optimistic they would be going again this year . . . I think 95 per cent of the guys will be back.”
That included Salmond, himself as a veteran of the sport.
“I’ve been doing it for quite a while,” he said, noting his father Wayne Salmond has driven for literally decades.
Shayne has two decades plus not just in the driver’s seat but at the EPCCA Board of Director’s table.
“I think I’ve been on the board of directors for about 20 years, since I was about 19,” he said.
As for the season ahead Salmond said while they are still finalizing some dates, and hope for some late fall additions in September as COVID restrictions loosen, they have a good run ahead.
As it stands Salmond said it looks like Hudson Bay will be the kick-off event, with stops in familiar sports such as Kelvington, Invermay and Archerwill.
Missing from the circuit are some of the summer fair shows, with events such as the Yorkton Exhibition cancelled because COVID uncertainties made accessing midways impossible.
“They’re out for this year,” said Salmond.
New events are still welcome.
“There’s some opportunity in September for some towns to get on board,” said Salmond, adding as long as there is a track to race on a weekend can be planned rather quickly since the Association “takes care of everything” in terms of the actual running of races.
Salmond said the EPCCA is planning a final’s event for Yorkton in September.
Salmond said with COVID causing so many outdoor events to be cancelled the past year, he is hoping this summer racing might see some new fans in the stands just wanting something to do after so many months housebound.
Getting people out that first time in huge for the sport, he added.
“Anybody who gets out to chuckwagon races one time, they’ll be back,” offered Salmond. “They see the horses. See the excitement. See the entertainment. They’ll be back.”