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Sponsor Steps Up In A Big Way For Laboucane

Posted By Bryan Hebson on March 25, 2024

By Laurence Heinen

Jamie Laboucane thought his wagon might fetch a fair price at the Grande Prairie Stompede canvas auction on the evening of Saturday, March 16.

Little did he know that he would receive the highest bid of $40,000 from Wild Rows Pump & Compression Ltd.

“I did not expect to go that high,” said Laboucane, who finished second in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association driver standings last year, a mere three points behind 2023 Grande Prairie Stompede champion Chanse Vigen. “It was a bit of a surprise.”

Wild Rows Pump & Compression Ltd., a Lloydminster-based company owned by Rod Wild, also sponsored Laboucane last year in Grande Prairie when the former Canadian Professional Chuckwagon Association driver started the 2023 season as a permit driver looking to solidify his spot on the WPCA Pro Tour.

Needless to say, the 37-year-old reinsman from St. Walburg, Sask., did that and more during an impressive 2023 season that saw him win show titles at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede and at the Battle of the Foothills in High River.

“I never hit a barrel the whole season,” Laboucane said. “It’s the first time doing that my whole career. It was pretty awesome. The horses ran good and we stayed pretty clean all season.”

Making the move from the CPCA to the WPCA last season, Laboucane appreciated the support he received from Rod Wild and his wife Irene.

“They’re good friends and have been sponsors of us for the last three, four years now in a part-time capacity and this year they wanted to be coming on as my full-time sponsor for the WPCA Pro Tour,” Laboucane said. “They opened it up from nothing into what it is today. Just great down-to-earth people. They run the business so well, but at the same time, they’re also not only great owners, but great friends.”

In turn, Wild said that he and his wife were happy to continue their partnership with Laboucane, his wife Dana and their whole crew.

“We’re a good fit,” said Wild, who’s looking forward to seeing his company’s name, logo and colours on Laboucane’s canvas when the season-opening show gets under way in Grande Prairie on May 29. “It’s a great event. Obviously, there’s a lot of passionate followers and/or sponsors up in Grande Prairie. We had to bid significantly to get him, but that was our goal.”

Laboucane would like nothing more than to consistently be in contention down the backstretch so that track announcer Les McIntyre calls out his title sponsor’s name on numerous occasions throughout the season.

“It’s funny, you look throughout history, a lot of the sponsored names are synonymous with the drivers, so it’s pretty cool to have their logo in the same sentence with your name when you’re rounding the track,” he said.

Wild appreciates the fact that he can help Laboucane “get up and down the road” through his sponsorship, while gaining notoriety for his oil and gas services company at the same time.

“It’s very unique in the chuckwagon world,” Wild said. “They’re always recognizing and they’re very appreciative of their sponsors. You do definitely get your name out there lots and obviously your logos and sponsorship colours, which is part of what you’re after to get some bang for your buck out of it.”

While Laboucane is hoping to improve upon his eighth-place finish in the aggregate standings a year ago in Grande Prairie, he recalled that being in the top 10 in his first show proved to him that he could compete with the likes of Vigen, Evan Salmond, Jason Glass, Layne MacGillivray and the other top WPCA drivers who he battled against all season long.

“I was being pretty conservative at the start of the year,” he said. “Being a permit guy, I came in and just hooked horses I knew. I didn’t hook too much power, but enough that I was going to make my barrels. All I wanted to do was just go in there and have five clean days of running to keep me up at the top of the permit guys so I could run at the next show. It all came together perfectly and kind of just grew and built from there.”

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