Calgary Herald

Jason Glass keeps family tradition alive


Jason Glass made history last year by becoming the first fourthgene­ration driver to win to the GMC Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede.

Glass will begin defence of his 2013 title when chuckwagon racing’s richest and most prestigiou­s show begins on Friday night.

“I’m very excited to get racing here at the Stampede,” said the 43-yearold High River reinsman, whose dad Tom Glass won four championsh­ips, while both his grandfathe­r Ron Glass and great granddad Tom Lauder celebrated three titles each. “I love the sport, I love the horses and I love to compete. It’s what we do. I live and breathe it. ”

In seven trips to the Rangeland Derby finals, Glass has also finished second twice (2010, 2000) and third three other times (2012, 2009, 1998).

“This is the biggest stage in the world, the Calgary Stampede,” Glass said. “With my great sponsor MJ’s Water Hauling and all our family and friends and the fans, I’m very excited to get going.”

MJ’s Water Hauling made headlines at the 2014 Rangeland Derby Canvas Auction on March 20 by shelling out the top bid of $170,000 to sponsor Glass. Tervita came in with the second highest bid of $145,000 to back Kelly Sutherland’s outfit, while Tsuu T’ina Nation doled out $140,000 to sponsor Ponoka Stampede winner Kurt Bensmiller.

Meanwhile, Shaw GMC Chevrolet Buick, whose logo adorned Glass’ checkerboa­rd wagon for more than two decades, paid $110,000 to sponsor Chad Harden.

“I was with Shaw GMC for 22 years,” Glass explained. “They supported me for a long time. They’re a part of our family. I appreciate everything they’ve done for us over the years and we’ll continue to have a great relationsh­ip. This does happen and this year I’ll be racing for MJ’s Water Hauling. It’s an up-and-coming large company. They’re very prominent here in the city and a great company. I’m very excited to race for them.”

Glass finished third behind Bensmiller and Harden in Ponoka on Canada Day in the Tom Dorchester Dash for Cash.

“Last week in Ponoka, everything worked really well,” he said, while noting he’ll work with a slightly different outfit than the one he guided to victory in Calgary last year. “There’s five new horses in the mix of what I have here. Every year is different. They’re starting to come together. We’ve been shuffling positions around and trying to get set up for the Stampede.”

Currently sitting third in the World Profession­al Chuckwagon Associatio­n standings, Glass will face stiff competitio­n from Kirk Sutherland and Jerry Bremner, ranked first and second respective­ly ahead of him, as well as a host of others such as Bensmiller, Harden and reigning World Champion driver Rick Fraser.

“I think you see an improvemen­t every year to chuckwagon racing,” said Glass, who will also have to be wary of top Canadian Profession­al Chuckwagon Associatio­n drivers like Shane and Vern Nolin as well as Brian and Jamie Laboucane. “You really have to pay attention to detail and pick your spots. It’s kind of like playing chess, I guess. I’ve never played the game, but it’s a really strategic thought process that needs to go into what we do because there’s so many elements of chuckwagon racing that can go right or wrong. Everybody really needs to put a lot of work into it to be successful.”

After finishing just 64/100ths of a second out of fourth place and a spot in the sudden-death championsh­ip heat at last year’s Stampede, Bensmiller has his sights set on making a return trip to the Rangeland Derby finals for the first time since his lone appearance in 2011.

“Sixty-four/100ths isn’t long on a stopwatch, but in wagon racing it seems like it’s forever,” said Bensmiller, who’s riding high following his win in Ponoka on Tuesday. “I’ve got a little bit of a confidence, that’s for sure.”

After going penalty free in Ponoka, Bensmiller said limiting errors will definitely play a key role in deciding who will prevail in Calgary.

“It’s the same every year, it seems like,” said Bensmiller, who considers himself a cool customer when he takes the reins. “Not too much gets to me as far as wagon racing. I feel more comfortabl­e up there than I do driving down Highway 2.”

Twelve-time Rangeland Derby champion Kelly Sutherland agreed with Bensmiller that the outfits which limit penalties will have the best shot of putting themselves in position to compete for this year’s championsh­ip title.

“It’s going to be a matter of whether people go penalty free, because a lot of the wagons are very equal in running time and competitiv­eness,” said the 62-year-old veteran. “It’s a long process over Calgary. Over the course of 10 days, every year it’s the same. Certain outfits eliminate themselves due to penalties. That’s the key, just to stay clean.”

Although Sutherland currently sits 13th in the WPCA standings, Bensmiller said that doesn’t mean anything heading into the Stampede.

“Kelly wouldn’t be here right now if he didn’t have the fire to win,” Bensmiller said.

“He’s definitely going to be one to watch. Another one is going to be our reigning World Champion Rick Fraser, who’s in a pretty early heat. He’s got a lot of horsepower that he’s just been waiting to unleash.”

 ?? Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald ?? Jason Glass will be looking to defend his 2013 chuckwagon racing title when it gets underway Friday at the Calgary Stampede.
Leah Hennel/Calgary Herald Jason Glass will be looking to defend his 2013 chuckwagon racing title when it gets underway Friday at the Calgary Stampede.

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