By: Kacie Albert
GUTHRIE, Okla. – In mid-August, PBR (Professional Bull Riders) and WCRA (World Champions Rodeo Alliance) will once again unite to make Western sports history, teaming to bring the two-day, blockbuster Stampede at The E to Guthrie, Oklahoma and Lazy E Arena Aug. 14-15.
The landmark event will begin on Friday, August 14 at 7:45 p.m. CT with Round 1 of the PBR Unleash The Beast’s revival of the iconic Bullnanza. The event, which traces its history back to 1989, prior to the inception of the PBR, will conclude with Round 2 and the championship round on Saturday, August 15 at 12:45 p.m. CT.
Following PBR’s premier series event, the action-packed weekend will conclude with the WCRA’s one-day, $300,000 Major Rodeo, the Stampede at the E, part of the Triple Crown of Rodeo, on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 7:00 p.m. CT.
In cooperation with local and state government as well as Lazy E Arena, PBR and WCRA have instituted a series of fan safety protocols for a safe and responsible event, including:
• Only up to 50% of arena capacity will be sold to increase physical distancing among fans.
• POD seating, which increases distancing and minimizes fan crossover when entering and exiting their seats.
• Regular sanitization of the building during each event, and at the conclusion of each performance.
• COVID-19 screening via daily temperature checks of all Lazy E Arena employees staffed to work both PBR and WCRA events.
• Emphasis of advanced-purchased, mobile tickets. For those fans that purchase tickets onsite, ticket sellers will be behind glass panels to minimize contact.
• Marked social distancing guidelines at all concession stands.
In 1989 in Guthrie, Oklahoma, world title contender Clint Branger captured the first Bullnanza title, propelling him in the world standings. Branger battled for the title against a 19-year-old new-comer named Ty Murray, who now holds seven PRCA all-around world titles. The following year, Branger and Tuff Hedeman tied for the Bullnanza title.
The popular event would run for a decade, and during the most recent Bullnanza in 2009, two-time PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney locked in the event championship.
Other past Bullnanza winners include: Branger (1989-90, 1992), Hedeman (1990-91, 1995), Mike Erickson (1993), Terry Don West (1994), Jerome Davis, (1996), Adriano Moraes (1997), Adam Carrillo (1998), Don Ray Howard (1999), Jason Bennett (2000), Dave Samsel (2001), Jim Sharp (2002), Cory Rasch (2003), Lee Akin (2004), Bryan Richardson (2005), Jake Wade (2006), Nathan Tull (2007) and T.J. Pitman (2008).
In addition to commemorating this iconic western sports event, the forthcoming PBR Unleash The Best event also builds on more recent history after Lazy E Arena hosted the league’s triumphant return after the live sports and entertainment industry had shut down due to COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Following a 41-day hiatus, the PBR’s premier series bucked into Lazy E Arena, holding three closed, made-for-TV event weekends from Apr. 25-May 17, becoming the first major professional sport in North America to return to competition.
At the first event, Fabiano Vieira went a flawless 3-for-3 to win the Las Vegas Invitational, presented by Union Home Mortgage, and crack into the world’s Top 10. The victory was the veteran Brazilian’s first event win since 2018 and made him the fourth oldest rider in league history to capture an elite Unleash The Beast event title.
Jose Vitor Leme then further cemented his world No. 1 lead, winning the Cooper Tires Invitational, presented by Ariat, inside Lazy E Arena, his league-leading fourth premier series event of the season. The phenom’s perfect performance was punctuated by a monstrous 90-point ride aboard I’m Legit Too, avenging a bitter buckoff from earlier in the season which denied him a $100,000 payday.
At the final closed event held in Logan County, Oklahoma, Lucas Divino rode Chiseled for 90.75 points in the championship round of the Lucas Oil Invitational, presented by U.S. Border Patrol, to take his place atop the Can-Am Cage in winning the event and climb inside the world’s Top 10.
Following the PBR Unleash The Beast event, fans will be captivated by the second WCRA Major rodeo of the 2020 season.
The WCRA’s inaugural Stampede at The E will showcase the world’s best rodeo athletes competing in 10 disciplines: bareback riding, women’s breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping (heading and heeling), tie-down roping, barrel racing, and bull riding.
A collective $300,000 will be on the line, with $28,000 being paid out in each discipline and each champion leaving the Lazy E with a $12,500 check.
Bull riders competing in the WCRA’s Stampede at the E will compete for a $78,000 purse. The $50,000 champion payout from the Kansas City Royal City Roundup Major carried over after no qualified rides were recorded in the showdown round.
The Stampede at The E will be the second of three Major events comprising the WCRA Triple Crown of Rodeo. The WCRA Triple Crown is a trilogy of Major rodeos offering a $1 million bonus to any one athlete or collection of athletes who win first place in any three consecutive WCRA majors. The first stop of the series was held in Kansas City, Mo. On Feb. 28, with the third leg scheduled for 2021.
Those athletes who were victorious in Kansas City at the Royal City Roundup, who will be looking to remain Triple Crown eligible are: Orin Larsen (Bareback Riding), Erich Rogers and Paden Bray (Team Roping), JD Struxness (Steer Wrestling), Chet Johnson (Saddle Bronc Riding), Kelsie Chace (Breakaway Roping), Shad Mayfield (Tie Down Roping), and Brittany Pozzi Tonozzi (Barrel Racing).
The PBR Unleash The Beast’s Bullnanza begins with Round 1 at 7:45 p.m. CT on Friday, August 14, concluding with Round 2 and the championship round at 12:45 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 15. All 35 bull riders will get on one bull each in Round 1 and 2. Following Round 2 on Saturday afternoon, the riders’ individual two-round scores will be totaled with the Top 15 advancing to the championship round for one more out and a chance at the $30,000 event title.
The WCRA’s Stampede at the E begins at 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 15. All nine athletes will go head-to-head in a long round with the top three best runs and rides advancing to a showdown round following an intermission.
Tickets for both events are on sale now and start at $25, taxes and fees may apply. They can be purchased at the Lazy E Arena Box Office, online at Ticketmaster.com, and by calling Lazy E Arena at (800) 745-3000 or PBR Direct at (800) 732-1727.
For an enhanced PBR experience, fans can now purchase PBR Elite Seats and Premium Experiences, which provide a behind-the-scenes look into the toughest sport on dirt. For more information on the upgraded experiences, fans can contact PBR Direct at 800-732-1727.
Athletes from around the globe have the opportunity to compete in the WCRA Major Events Series and compete for the TCR after qualifying through the VRQ. Qualifying for the Stampede at the E is currently underway and athletes can continue nominating until July 26.
Since launching in May of 2018, the WCRA and its partners have awarded more than $7,300,000 in new money to rodeo athletes. All rodeo athletes interested in learning more about the WCRA or the VRQ should be directed to wcrarodeo.com.
The PBR Unleash The Beast season consists of more than 20 stops, traveling to cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and many more. The season will culminate with the PBR World Finals at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena Nov. 4-8, when the 2020 PBR World Champion, the bull rider who earns the most world standings points during the season, will receive the coveted World Championship belt buckle and $1 million bonus.
All scheduled dates for PBR and WCRA events are subject to change based on government guidance and changing health conditions.
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