The idea of staging a chuckwagon race as an actual “event” was dreamed up by Calgary Stampede founder Guy Weadick. There are many thoughts on what inspired Guy Weadick’s dream.
It’s been suggested that Guy Weadick saw match races at the 1922 Gleichen Stampede between farm wagons pulled by 4 horses. Or, growing up on cattle ranches, Weadick witnessed many impromptu races between ranch outfits at the end of a round-up where the wagons would race to the nearest town saloon and the last ones there had to buy the first round of drinks.
Former Calgary Stampede arena director Jack Dillon recalled a customary gathering of pioneers and cattlemen in Miles City, Montana where ranch outfits would meet 4 miles from town, the mayor would ride out and start the race to the centre of town where the first outfit there got the best camping spot the town could offer. There were also the stories from the great land rushes in South Dakota and Oklahoma.
Another thought is that at the 1919 Victory Stampede, cooks from 2 chuckwagons - who upon completion of serving a barbecue in front of the grandstand - loaded up their chuckwagons and raced down the track to see who could get to the exit gates first much to the pleasure of the grandstand crowd. Others claim that “Sundown” or “Wildhorse” Jack Morton, an original participant in the first official races, was the one who suggested the idea to Guy Weadick.
What really matters is that the dream was realized by Guy Weadick, and the first “official” races took place at the 1923 Calgary Stampede with just 6 outfits participating. Race rules, for all intensive purposes, were originally non-existent and were added every night of that first competition.
Over the years, rules and equipment have been altered but the one thing that has remained consistent is that the chuckwagon races are one of the most exciting forms of entertainment available to the public at large.
The success of the first races of 1923 saw many other communities throughout Alberta and abroad adding chuckwagon races to their local rodeos and fairs in the years to follow. This became the basis of the WPCA GMC Pro Tour as we know it today.