Fike's canvas fetches $130,000 at Stampede auction
By: Brendan Nagle
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 02:17 pm
They haven’t hitched the hooves to the wagon yet, but the cash register is already ringing for Cremona chuckwagon racer Jordie Fike.
Fike took in $130,000 at the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby chuckwagon canvas auction March 21 in Calgary. It was the Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer “Put the Boots to Hunger” campaign doing the buying. The Calgary law firm works with the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank to raise funds to feed those in need.
“They sell (the canvas) each night to a different major sponsor for the night. The food bank actually does very well on this. They make quite a bit of money for the food bank over those 10 (Stampede) days.”
The BD&P Put the Boots to Hunger campaign raised $560,000 at the 2012 Stampede for the Calgary Food Bank.
Along with Stampede, there’s a full season of racing on the horizon for Fike.
“I’m real excited,” said Fike, who now resides in High River where he keeps and trains his horses. “In the middle of winter, you start getting a little fired up for spring to come.”
So chuckwagon spring training is here, just ahead of the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) season which begins May 29 in Grande Prairie. Fike finished 11th in WPCA standings last season with 875 points from 10 events.
“Now that the weather’s warming up, it won’t be long. We’ll be training now and getting back into it.”
It’s been a long offseason for the Fike team. He’s just five minutes from the High River track where he trains his horses, and can’t wait to get them hitched to the training truck and into game shape.
“They just run around and get fat out in the field in the winter time,” Fike cracked. “They just get fed. Then we have to get them back in shape. They’re a bunch of fat messes right now. But it won’t take them long to get back in shape.”
During spring training, horses are hitched to a frame on a truck that is driven at 40 km/h for about two miles to “get the wind back in them, get their lungs back into shape.”
“Light work at first. Just like getting an athlete back into shape, they start light and you kind of bring them up. After a while, they get so they’re pulling against the truck engine almost because they’re pulling so hard.”
Following that break-in training, the horses are hitched to the wagon at the track where they begin their barrel work and sprints around the half-mile dirt oval – better known as the half mile of hell. Fike said he has 40 head right now, including six new horses he picked up in the fall and 10 he’s had “maturing” to the point of joining his racing teams.
He’ll be working with six full hooks (six, four-horse teams) in spring before concentrating on two, with spares, for the summer racing season. He usually brings 20 horses to race events.
“It’s almost like a hockey team,” he explains to a sports reporter far more familiar with the winter team sport than wagon racing. “If they get tired or they get small injuries, or you have to turn them out for the rest of the year, that’s when the farm team and the third outfit comes in handy.”
By the time the WPCA season starts, Fike will have a team selected to drive off the Nos. 1-2 barrels and another to start off the Nos. 3-4 barrels. The start is key on the half mile of hell; having your strongest team at the start of every heat is mandatory.
“Some horses like to go on the 1 and 2 barrel better because it’s a longer distance up to the top barrel. Other ones like to turn quicker, so you use them off your 3-4 barrel to try to steal the rail with them.”
He’ll be at Deerfoot Casino in Calgary April 9 for another canvas auction, this one for the sponsor he’ll showcase at events throughout the 2013 WPCA season.
“In previous years I’ve had PenWest Exploration as well as Eagle Builders. They both sound like they’re going to be back on board this year. We’ll know better after that auction.”
Fike’s brother, Chad, who was the WPCA champion outrider last season and Rangeland Derby champion outrider in 2009, will be driving this season on the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association circuit this season. He drove in two races last season.
Fireside of Cochrane was also in on the Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby auction action, buying defending Rangeland Derby champ Troy Dorchester’s canvas for $120,000.