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WPCA Driver Luke Tournier reflects on his win at the 2019 Grande Prairie Stompede.  With the cancellation of the 2020 race season, Tournier changes his focus to 2021.

The first show on the WPCA schedule signals the start of summer. Drivers and their families make the trek to Grande Prairie with new horse power on their roster. Throughout the chuckwagon community, there’s a sense of excitement for the new season. But for driver “Lightning” Luke Tournier the confidence wasn’t exactly there.

“We didn’t have a real good spring training,” Tournier said. “We didn’t think we had much going into Grande Prairie. We were a little surprised we did so well.

The Tournier camp did more than “so well.” Not only did they win the 2019 Grande Prairie Stompede, Tournier took home the Ralph Vigen Memorial Aggregate Award. Though he never had too many interactions with Ralph Vigen, Tournier says it’s always an honour to win something with his name on it.

Despite not feeling overly confident heading into the first race of 2019, the mood shifted when he was in Championship Sunday. “You want to concentrate on not doing anything stupid. You want to make sure you make a clean run. Make sure your horses are feeling well and good. Make sure the equipment is in proper order,” Tournier explains.

“Once we got to the final day, you’re starting to think you got confidence in your horses, cause you’re working well. And hopefully you can keep going with it.”

The final was a glimpse into what the 2019 season would become. Tournier was up against Kurt Bensmiller, Vern Nolin and Codey McCurrach. All the aforementioned drivers would end up occupying four of the top six spots in the World Professional Standings.

“It was a nice win. It was timed right, cause we really wanted that truck. But I had gotten a text and my wife thought we didn’t win. Then Quaid comes over smiling saying we had won it. The look on his face was kinda satisfying.”

With no races this season, Tournier will begin the 2021 season the unofficial defending Grande Prairie Stompede champion. It’ll be an interesting time with a full year between races, but Tournier is looking forward to getting back to defending his title.

“It’s going to be strange. We’ve never had a year off since probably back in the 90s. It’s going to be strange after being off for so long, but I imagine it’ll be the same.” With never giving the horses a whole year off, Tournier doesn’t know what to fully expect when the horn blows on the 2021 season.

With a long rest ahead for Tournier, the only draw back he see’s is just being a year older. Though he’d rather be doing the figure eight, there’s some projects around his property he’ll have a chance to get done.

Recently, WPCA’s Bryan Hebson spoke with Luke Tournier on Facebook live about the 2019 Grande Prairie Stompede. You can view the interview in its entirety here.

Next week, we’ll look back at an exciting show in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan which was race two on the 2109 WPCA schedule.


-Nathan Bannerman

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