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Kurt Bensmiller wins big at WPCA finals

Chuckwagon driver Kurt Bensmiller proved he is still the best in the business Aug. 25, winning his third consecutive world title – and his fourth in the last five years – at the World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s (WPCA) championship finals at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.

With the win, Bensmiller has now tied the record for the most consecutive world championships in the sport, alongside Ronnie Glass, Tom Dorchester and George Normand.

“They all feel pretty special,” Bensmiller said of his titles.

The inaugural event at Century Downs – the first of a five-year agreement that will see the WPCA Pro Tour wrap up at the East Balzac-based venue each summer until 2023 – featured the sport’s top 12 drivers and their outriders.

After four days of racing, Bensmiller secured the championship by compiling 1,247 points – edging runner-up Vern Nolin, who led the tour for most of 2019, by just 29.5 points.

Bensmiller, a native of Dewberry, Alta., thanked his main sponsor – Versatile Energy Services – for helping him claim the title.

“They’re big with our family and treat us good all year long, not just during the season,” he said. 

Once Bensmiller had been crowned champion, the competition at Century Downs capped off Aug. 25. Drivers competed in nine separate “Dash for Cash” heats, with their position corresponding with their times throughout the week.

The ninth heat, referred to as the Winners’ Zone Championship Dash, was the marquee race, as it featured the top four drivers – Bensmiller, Jordie Fike, Luke Tournier and Ross Knight. Racing around barrel No. 1, Bensmiller and his team finished the half-mile lap in 1:24.53 to come away with $50,000 in prize money and a horse trailer valued at $30,000.

Though Bensmiller topped the WPCA’s 2019 Pro Tour and finished first in the Winners’ Zone Championship Dash, he didn’t win the aggregate championship. That honour went to Chad Harden, who completed his first four races at Century Downs with a cumulative time of 5:34.85 – an average time of just 1:23.7 per race. He took home $5,000 as a result.

Harden also earned the distinction of recording the fastest time of the competition, when he completed the lap in 1:22.59 on Day 2.

Other winners on the final day included Bob Van Eaton, Kelly Morin, Darcy Flad, Chance Vigen, Jason Glass, Dayton Sutherland, Roger Moore and Chance Flad.

The drivers weren’t the only ones receiving payouts, as the outriders were recognized, too. Rory Gervais defended his title as the world champion outrider for his assistance to Harden throughout the event.

Total payouts amounted to more than $300,000, making the Century Downs event one of the highest-paying competitions in chuckwagon racing.




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Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, sports/RCMP reporter
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