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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Dubois Scenic Overlook...Before the Race

The Old-Fashioned Western Chariot Horse races were held on August 13, in Dubois, Wyoming, at the Dubois Scenic Overlook Chariot Track. Now, lest your anticipation of seeing pictures and video of the races themselves peak prematurely, I need to tell you that today's post is preliminary to the actual racing. My purpose in this post is to try to give you a feel of the the atmosphere of the event.

First, I must explain how the town's name came about and correct your pronunciation of it.

According to the Dubois website, settlers originally filed with the US Postal Service to name their post office “Neversweat,” due to the area’s dry climate. This request was denied, and the Postal Service instead endowed the first post office there with the name “Dubois,” after a popular Idaho senator (who happened to be on the Postal Service committee). But the residents amended the pronunciation to "DEW-boyz," with the emphasis on the first syllable.

In fact, I found a whole list of commonly mispronounced names of places in Wyoming. Click here if you're interested.

Now, back to the scene of the chariot races. The track is located on a plateau midway up the steep gravel road leading to the top of the Dubois Scenic Overlook. The views from the top are stunning.

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Doug, shooting video from the top of the Dubois Scenic Overlook

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Another view from the top of the overlook

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Looking down at the race track and, beyond, the town of Dubois
(The track is where the cluster of pickups and horse trailers can be seen.)

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This view is from the plateau, near the starting gates of the track.

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The starting gates and the quarter-mile straight track 

The peak to the right side of the above picture, in the background, is the top of the scenic overlook. 

As race time drew near, contestants, spectators, officials, and outriders (who are there to help if a team gets away from its driver or someone needs assistance), began to gather. In the picture below, you can see the announcer's booth at the top of the stairs, and the concession stand below it.

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Announcer's Stand and Concession Stand

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Waiting for the races to start

In the next shot, the lady in the pink hat is the timer for the teams racing on the north side of the track. Chatting with her is the photographer for the local newspaper, who was kind enough to give me some valuable tips for photographing the races.

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Race Timer and Newspaperman

As you can see, the track, fencing, and buildings are definitely rustic.

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This was the timer for the teams racing on the south side of the track.

Each race pits two racers against each other, although I understand that some tracks may race three chariots at a time. Each chariot is pulled by two horses, driven by a single driver.

Calcutta betting is part of this sport of chariot racing. I'd never seen this done before and was confused by it. As I understand it, bids are taken for each of the two contestants prior to their race.  It works like an auction, with the contestant being "sold" to the highest bidder. If his contestant wins, the winning bidder get his bid back plus the amount bid on the losing contestant. At least, I think that's how it works. Someone from the chariot-racing circuit may need correct me.

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This little rabbit was darting back and forth across the track before the first race.

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The announcer started to take bids on the rabbit.

As race time drew nearer, spectator vehicles (mostly pickup trucks) began to line up along both sides of the track. It seemed that most people knew each other, and there was great camaraderie among them. Of course, there were a few, like us, who were seeing chariot racing for the first time.

Lastly, I'm including a YouTube video, prepared by the American Quarter Horse Association. The video provides some history of the sport and includes a few video clips from the 2016 World Champion Cutter and Chariot Racing Association (WCCCRA) Championships, held last March.




Next time...pictures and video from the Dubois races.


12 comments:

  1. Having rodeo finals starting the 8th here. Looks almost like drag racing.Watched a neighbor working with his cutting horse sat.Love those ponies.

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  2. Wonderful photos, Linda, and I love the ponies! I love the rustic look of the place as well!

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  3. Love the photos, Linda, especially that bunny. If I were a betting person my money would be on him, for sure. What a fun time those races must be the folks in the area. I enjoyed the video, but I'm really looking forward to seeing yours. Nice cliffhanger. Argh, lol.

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  4. The area for these races is very scenic.

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  5. neversweat made me laugh - as did their 'ornery' pronunciation pick. ha! seems like a scary sport - way back when or now.

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  6. So glad you two made it for the races... I know how much you have enjoyed that in past years... I would never have gotten the pronunciation of Dubois correct... I did look at the other missed-pronunciations in Wyoming --and would have probably missed most of them. I do however, pronounce Teton correctly.... ha

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  7. Grest photos Linda! You captured this area of God's creation so beautifully! The chariot (and jack rabbit Tee Hee) racing looked like FUN!

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  8. Steve - It IS pretty much a drag race between the chariots. I love to watch cutting horses work, too.

    Thanks, Linda. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Thank you, Toni. I was so afraid the bunny would spook the horses, but it got off the track before the race started.

    Ruth - My photos don't do the area justice. The scenery was breathtaking.

    Tex - I'm glad someone commented on "Neversweat." Doug and I occasionally find ourselves referring to the town by that name. It's easier to remember how to pronounce it. :)

    Betsy - This was our first time to actually see a chariot race in person, but I've shared pictures from Betty, the chariot-racing waitress, before. I'm going to have to study that list of mispronounced names before we go out there again.

    Thank you, Diane. It was fun to be able to see one of these races in person at last. We've wanted to, ever since meeting Betty in 2012.

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  9. Lloks like you had a fun day out at the races.

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    1. It WAS a fun day, Margaret. And a new experience for us.

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  10. Linda, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and can't wait to see its next instalment. Beautiful scenery and great captures and your visual story of the races looks wonderful. You've made me think about what helpful tips the photographer might have given you… perhaps some time we could discuss them. I also loved "Neversweat"… Can anyone be serious about such a name? It seems so… :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Petra. The photographer's tips weren't so much technical as they were practical tips on where to stand and how best to get at least a few good shots. I loved "Neversweat." Doug and I still sometimes refer to the town by that name.

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