By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 26, 2014@ 02:20:00 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas — As a bull rider, J.W. Hart liked taking things to the extreme.
He was the first “Iron Man” in PBR history, having ridden in a then-record 175 consecutive Built Ford Tough Series events. A record that stood well past his retirement, until Luke Snyder eventually surpassed it.
As a promoter and producer of Touring Pro Division events, Hart has pushed the boundaries much like he did as a rider.
He loves — almost thrives — on “thinking outside the box.”
This year’s J.W. Hart PBR Challenge will take place Saturday, May 31, at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Decatur, Texas.
In addition to featuring the much-talked about $25,000 winner-take-all 1,000 Mile From Home Challenge between J.B. Mauney (on Asteroid) and J.W. Harris (on Shepherd Hills Tested), the entire “commercial free” broadcast will be streamed in real time on PBR LIVE (click here for more info).
Unlike other TPD events that have been made available on PBR.com, this one will feature broadcasters, as opposed to relying on commentary from the in-arena announcers.
“I didn’t want it to be in-arena announcers,” said Hart, who has worked for the past four years to get his event streamed online or broadcast on television. “I wanted it to be a full-fledged deal.”
Hart has lined up Brandon Bates and two-time World Champion Justin McBride to handle play-by-play duties in a PBR Pure-like format – Hart indicated Bates has the potential to be great in this role – with RFD-TV personality Amy Wilson handling behind-the-chutes reports and interviews.
“Amy’s been around the rodeo world and she’s knowledgeable about the sport,” said Hart, who wanted to change up the broadcasters from what they see on television all season at BFTS events.
“I am very appreciative of the opportunity and, of course, excited,” said Wilson, who shared what she described as a funny story. “I actually got to meet Leah (Garcia) when we worked together in Las Vegas for RFD-TV, and I was just trying to take in everything I could learn from her. But she told Randy (Bernard) that the PBR was in my future, which was a huge compliment.
“I got to follow her around at Iron Cowboy, and then work together at THE AMERICAN, so I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to get to know Leah and watch the great job she does.”
Bates, who lives three hours north of Decatur in Edmond, Oklahoma, has been one of the in-arena announcers at Hart’s annual event for the past several years and is quite familiar with the significance and history of the North Texas event.
Now in its 16th year, including the first four that were held in nearby Gainesville, Texas, Hart and his committee members – Andrew Rottner, Calvin Jackson, Wendell Berry and the late Roy Young – have raised over $700,000 for charities.
That figure includes the five homes they gave away last year to wounded veterans, along with one they gave away earlier this year during the Iron Cowboy, and the two they plan to give away Saturday night.
“I like trying new things,” said Hart. “If you don’t think outside the box and you don’t try new things, you get stagnant in what you do. And we’re not afraid to fail. As long we’re trying something new, we can live with failure every now and then to know that we were trying to get better.”
In recent years, Hart worked closely with the ABBI to develop maturity competitions among bulls, as well as bull team competitions for stock contractors, which has helped to draw some of the best bulls in the country to his annual event.
Saturday’s short round will be as good as any Built Ford Tough Championship Round with the likes of Stone Sober, David’s Dream, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Pound the Alarm, Jack Daniel’s Happy Hour and, as Hart continued, “It’s going to be loaded up — just the bull power is going to be pretty phenomenal.”
Hart also noted that fans at home will have an opportunity to see everything the fans in attendance will see — from the BFTS-like opening introductions to Wilson’s post-challenge interviews with Mauney, Harris and others.
“One thing is for sure,” said Wilson, who six months ago was working with former PBR World Finals qualifier Cauy Hudson, “the PBR is always being innovative and has a standard of excellence, which had led to things happening like this match. J.B. Mauney and J.W. Harris are champions and they’re getting on champions, so it’s going to be fun.
“I can’t thank J.W. Hart enough for asking me to be a part of it all, working with an all-star team to bring the fans this history-making event. I can’t wait.”
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