After 16 years as a professional chuckwagon racer, central Alberta’s Obrey Motowylo can finally call himself world champion.
The 49-year-old man from Hoadley, north of Rimbey, is the World Professional Chuckwagon Association Champion for the 2021 season, after finishing with a total of 679.5 points.
“It feels great. It’s the toughest one to win because it’s about consistency over the whole season,” said Motowylo.
“This year there were (32) other guys gunning for it. You have to keep the horses healthy and working in sync. I’m just proud to win that.”
Motowylo has run ponies since 1988 and moved up to professional wagons 16 years ago.
“I’ve been fairly successful and I’ve won quite a few shows. But I’ve never been world champion. I’ve been runner up before, I’ve been third, but never world champion,” he said.
This season Motowylo’s two sons, 17-year-old Hayden and 20-year-old Ethan, were the No. 1 and No. 2 outriders, respectively. Outriders hold the horses steady before the start of the race and race on their own horse. They must finish within 40 metres of the wagon. Motowylo said he and Ethan are the first father-son duo to ever be world champions in the same season.
“I’m more proud of them than I am of my own accomplishments, that’s for sure,” he said.
“My younger son, it’s only his second full year of full outriding and to win the worlds, it’s amazing. Nobody’s ever done that before. Then the other one was only 20 points off of him for number two. They were basically tied, they were that close.”
There was uncertainty this season would even happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Motowylo added.
“In May we didn’t even know what we were going to have for a season,” he said.
“At the beginning of June there was talk of Dewberry (World Chuckwagon Races) starting up July 1, which is my birthday weekend. Then we got excited, but after (the Calgary Stampede) cancelled on us, we were thinking most other shows would follow suit and not go ahead with it.”
Fortunately, that’s not what happened,” said Motowylo.
“A lot of the shows decided to wait and see. We sold out in Dewberry we sold out (at the Battle of the Foothills) in High River over two weekends – we had to delay races because so many fans were trying to get in the stands – Ponoka saw that.
“Then they all started coming on board. We sold out Rocky Mountain House, we sold out Dawson Creek, we sold out Bonnyville. It’s amazing how much people were supporting the chuckwagons.”
As for next season, Motowylo said he is aiming for a repeat to become a two-time world champion.