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Hometown heroes return for WPCA Dodge Pro Tour

Bonnyville's two professional chuckwagon drivers had a chance to camp at home base this past week as the WPCA Dodge Pro Tour touched down for the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Championship.
Doug Irvine drives his team on the home stretch on the second day of racing at the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Championship.
Doug Irvine drives his team on the home stretch on the second day of racing at the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Championship.

Bonnyville's two professional chuckwagon drivers had a chance to camp at home base this past week as the WPCA Dodge Pro Tour touched down for the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Championship. The stop let hometown heroes Rae Croteau Jr and Doug Irvine work from home for a few days before heading off for the remainder of the tour.

"It's a pretty nice feeling," Irvine says about performing for his hometown. "It's pretty good when you pull in front of the grandstand. You can just hear it, when me and Rae pull in front of the grandstand it just erupts."

Irvine says while he's having a bit of an off year for chuckwagon racing, it's also a rebuilding year. He lost several of his horses last year to a combination of strangles and injuries and is working with a new team this year. He says he sees his horses improving and promises a comeback in the near future.

"Usually you've just got to tweak it a little bit and keep improving on what you've got. This year was kind of just start right over from scratch," Irvine says. "It weighs on your mind and you start questioning everything and it's very stressful, but once a guy gets through it I think you're stronger in the end. We'll be tough again in the not so distant future."

His team this year is first and second year horses, a challenge for the driver when horses reach peak performance in their third year.

"It's kind of trying. They'll give you a good effort one night and then the next night they're not the same effort," he says.

Despite being on the road all summer with the WPCA Pro Dodge Tour, Irvine says he starts to miss the travelling and racing a week after it all ends.

In the off-season, Irvine drives for B & R Eckels Transport, which has sponsored Irvine since he started racing. "I never have to worry about whether they're there to back you or not," he says. "They always look after you no matter what, through thick and thin they're there with full support all the time. It's a huge weight off your shoulders knowing that they're there with you."

Chance Flad is Irvine's outrider throughout the season, while Chanse Vigan also outrode with Irvine at the Bonnyville Chuckwagon Championship.