By: Justin Felisko
PUEBLO, Colo. – The Unleash The Beast: American Roots Edition will be bringing the top bull riders in the world to various rodeo cities throughout the United States in less than five weeks, and with that will be the start of the PBR’s 28th season.
PBR Commissioner Sean Gleason announced Wednesday that the 2021 season will now be opening in Tucson, Arizona, at the Tucson Rodeo Fairgrounds on Jan. 9-10. It will mark the PBR’s premier series return to the city of Tucson for the first time since 2016 when the PBR bucked bulls inside the Tucson Arena.
Even more so, the PBR last held a premier series event at the iconic outdoor rodeo venue 22 years ago when Chris Shivers posted one of the best rides in Tucson PBR history – 92 points on Rough Stock – at the 1998 event.
“It felt good,” Shivers told TNN’s Pam Minick at the time. “I didn’t know the bull coming into tonight. I had heard about him and they said I could be about 86 on him. I lucked out, he bucked hard and I was 92. I am real happy.”
PBR co-founder Aaron Semas won the event by going 3-for-3, taking the lead for good with a 90-point effort on School Boy. The ride is one of seven 90-point rides in PBR Tucson history.
“I tried to loosen up right at the end and he about pulled me over onto his head, but it worked out great,” Semas told Minick.
Below is a look back at some of the other top rides in PBR Tucson history.
1997: Troy Dunn (92 points on Superstition)
The only other rider with a 92-point ride or higher score in Tucson PBR history is Troy Dunn. The eventual 1998 PBR World Champion converted on Superstition for 92 points for one of his two event wins in 1997.
1998: Reed Corder (91 points Dirty Dancer)
Reed Corder placed sixth at the 1998 event, but his 91-point ride on Dirty Dancer is the third-best ride on the premier series in Tucson.
2015: J.B. Mauney (90 points on Mr. Bull)
Unlike his 2013 World Championship, two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney ran away with his second world title during the second half of the 2015 season. Mauney put the essential nail in the coffin to No. 2 Kaique Pacheco’s rookie-year title aspirations by riding Mr. Bull for 90 points to win the regular-season finale in Tucson. Not only did the ride help him edge past Pacheco for the event victory, it also led to a 555-point swing in the world standings over Pacheco. In fact, 2015 is the only season in which Mauney has ever entered the PBR Finals as the No. 1-ranked bull rider in the world.
2015: Kaique Pacheco (90 points on Compact)
Pacheco was facing an uphill battle to try and catch Mauney in 2015, but the soon-to-be 2015 Rookie of the Year notched the first 90-point ride of his career by riding Compact inside the Tucson Arena.
Pacheco’s rookie season is still one of the best in PBR history. He went 37-for-78 (47.44%) with three event victories on the premier series. In comparison, the Top 3 rookies in the 2020 standings – Boudreaux Campbell, Cole Melancon and Alex Cerqueira – had 37 rides combined this past season.
2016: Kaique Pacheco (90.25 points on Crazy Horse)
One year later, Pacheco notched the second 90-point ride of his career when he rode Crazy Horse for 90.25 points. Pacheco finished second overall at the event for the second consecutive year, but this time it was Chase Outlaw beating him out.
Maybe Pacheco will change that narrative in 2021. He is 6-for-6 in Tucson and has yet to buck off in the city.
Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour history in Tucson
The PBR last held an event of any level in Tucson three years ago when 2004 World Champion Ednei Caminhas went 3-for-3 to win the Velocity Tour 2017 regular-season finale.
Caminhas would then receive an automatic bid to the 2018 Monster Energy Buck Off at The Garden in New York City to become the oldest rider to appear on the premier series at the time (42 years, 3 months old).
45-year-old Venn Johns broke Caminhas’s PBR record this past season when he competed at the Lazy E Arena during the PBR’s run of private events in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
Neither rider successfully recorded a qualified ride.
The 2021 Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour begins on Jan. 15-16 in Cedar Park, Texas, before heading to Greenville, South Carolina, on Jan. 22-23.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
Photo courtesy of Andy Watson/Bull Stock Media
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