Amid bitter temperatures and blowing snow, it’s a sense of history and entertainment that still drive Star Valley’s chariot racers. On any given Saturday afternoon, a group of spectators gather on the grounds just west of Afton, where the melding of man, machine and horse are displayed in one of the oldest methods of transportation known to man.
It’s when the racing teams of the All-American Cutter Racing Association tests their mettle in the middle of a western Wyoming Winter. On these Saturdays, you’ll see a lot of sacrifice, a lot of endurance and a lot of fun being had. And that’s just those who are watching.
For over 100 years, the tradition of the cutter or chariot races have been a draw in Star Valley where the sport of competitive racing has it’s roots. On Saturday, those root were evident in the opening weekend of competition. From families with several generations of racers and horses, to those making a new endeavor that they hope will last through time, the racers themselves love the sport, and the fact that there is still a lot to appreciate about the weekly camaraderie.
“Every week we get together, hook up our two horses and see who can go the fastest,” stated Bob Hokanson, veteran racer and well-respected member of the All-American Cutter Racing Association. “Tradition has a lot to do with it, this sport used to shut down main street in Afton and Thayne as they raced down the road. It really was a spectacle and we try to put on a good show.”
This particular starting weekend featured documentary film makers from Germany who not only experienced the thrill of the races bu got to compare winters of Wyoming and their homeland as well.
With early afternoon temperatures hovering well into the single digits, a wicked wind battered the drivers and the spectators but that didn’t stop the entire slate of eight races from being completed. A chance to relax on a weekend amid friends, witness some fun and exciting horse racing while sipping some hot chocolate or munching on a burger.
What could be more All-American than that?
2008-09 Cutter Racers
Star “A” Ranch Allen Hale
Nelson Q. Horses Tom Nelson
Lwr Valley Hydrnics Bob Hokanson
Salt River Ranch Sheldon Merritt
T.J. Construction Johnny Robinson
Narrows Develop. Mike Clark
Nelson Too Tome Nelson
Pines Bar Jim Stoker
Virginian Kelly Garland
Hale Family Steve Newman
Homestead Jim Stoker
7X Energy Service John Hintz
Hillstead #1 Anthony Hillstead
Hillstead #2 Adam Hillstead
Lwr Valley Heating Kelly Garland
B-X Partners Jim Stoker
Team Results Week 1
Star “A” Ranch defeated Nelson Q 22.56
Lower Vally Hydronics defeated Salt River 22.52
Narrows Development defeated T.J. Construction 22.92
Pines Bar defeated Nelson Too 22.95
Hale Family defeated Virginian 22.85
Homestead defeated 7X Energy 23.17
Hillstead #1 defeated Hillstead #2 23.98
Lwr Valley Heating defeated B-X Part. 22.99
Bold = fastest time)