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Chuckwagon racing mourns Ringuette’s passing

“Victor Ringuette was one of the best friends that the sport of chuckwagon racing will ever have."
A file photo from 2012 shows the B&R Eckel's logo on a chuckwagon.

BONNYVILLE - Chuckwagon racing in Alberta has lost one of its biggest fans and supporters with the passing of Victor Ringuette on Nov. 8.

A fan of the sport for much of his life, Ringuette first started sponsoring chuckwagon outfits in the 1970s, starting with the Northern Chuckwagon Association, which later evolved into the Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association (CPCA), and in more recent years, also wagons in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA).

According to WPCA’s Billy Melville, “Many drivers have carried the canvas of Victor's B & R Eckel's Transport, including the likes of Glen Delaronde, Harold Schiller, Ray Croteau Sr., Grant Preece, Ryan Preece, Shane Nolin and Doug Irvine among others.” Those others, over the years, span three generations of drivers.

The B & R Eckel’s tarp was a familiar site at the Calgary Stampede, with Schiller and Croteau in the 1970s and 1980s and Doug Irvine hitting the Half Mile of Hell under that distinctive tarp for a total of 13 years between 2006 and 2019, coming within one hundredth of a second of winning the Rangeland Derby in 2012.

The B & R Eckel’s wagon won the North Battleford race meet in 2014 with Shane Nolin at the reins, the Battle of the Rockies, the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede and the Ponoka Stampede with Doug Irvine in the driver’s seat.

After last year’s chuckwagon shutdown due to the COVID pandemic, Irvine was back at the B & R wagon’s reins this year with all of Bonnyville cheering on “the Story from LaCorey” this August when the WPCA retuned to the Bonnyville track.

On the CPCA circuit this year, Irvine’s former barn hand, Danny Ringuette, finished fifth overall for the season, and seventh in the association’s Lloydminster finals, also proudly carrying the B & R Eckel’s tarp.

Along with sponsoring chuckwagon drivers, Victor Ringuette and B & R Eckel's sponsored everything from advertising to trucks to prize money and facility improvement for the sport he loved. This won B & R the WPCA’s Active Supporter Award in 2009 and Ringuette, who often decided to make his donations anonymously, that same award in 2012.

Melville summed up those many contributions over the years by saying, “Victor Ringuette was one of the best friends that the sport of chuckwagon racing will ever have, and his name and the name of B & R Eckel's Transport have become synonymous with the sport of chuckwagon racing.” Many other fans of this great sport could not agree more.