The Calgary Stampede chuckwagon canvas auction pulled in just over $3.5 million on Thursday night — the fourth highest tally in the history of the event.
The annual event sees companies bid for the right to have their logos on the wagon canvases for the GMC Rangeland Derby.
How much money corporate Calgary shells out is seen as a barometer of the city’s economic fortunes.
Driver Jason Glass scored the biggest cheque of the night at $170,000 from MJ’s Water Hauling — the company stealing him away from his longtime sponsor Shaw GMC.
Glass said having the sponsorship question out of the way makes it easier to for him to get focused on racing.
“You know it's just not natural to stand on a stage and be sold. It's very exciting and you just hope for the best. There's so many great companies in Calgary and they've supported chuckwagon racing for a long time, since 1923.”
The rights to 12-time winner Kelly Sutherland’s rig were picked up by environmental and energy services company Tervita for $145,000.
"Probably for the price I deserved, or maybe even or maybe even higher than I deserved because they pay money for me to compete and win and that's what I try to do," Sutherland said.
Earlier on Thursday, the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) announced a deal with Nebraska-based Rural Radio and the Chuckwagon Radio Network that will see the Rangeland Derby broadcast on Sirius XM satellite radio as part of a package of 51 races during the Canadian season.
This year’s Calgary Stampede runs July 4-13.