Mountain racers both past and present were honoured at an end of the year banquet recently.
Held in the Gibraltar Room Friday, Feb. 3, racers gathered to receive awards, visit with one another and watch GoPro footage of some of this year’s races.
“It’s like a family,” retired mountain racer Jimmy Lulua said of the group, who train and compete in three races every year starting out with the Williams Lake Stampede every July long weekend.
“We help each other out. But for a minute and a half it’s every man for themselves. We’re competitive.”
It’s that competitive nature, steeped in family tradition, that sees mountain racers ride steep courses to thrilling finishes at the Stampede, in Nemiah Valley and at the Redstone Rodeo every summer.
“It takes a special person to race. There are not many people who can do it and win.”
Himself a nine-time winner and fan favourite, Lulua was forced into retirement following an accident during a race at Nemiah which left the racer’s face shattered.
“It’ just a miracle I survived,” Lulua said, noting he doesn’t watch the races much anymore because it just makes him want to race again.
This year Lulua’s brother, Howard Lulua won first place and a new saddle for points accumulated in the 2016 racing season, Conway Lulua captured second place and took home new chaps and Steve Quilt came in third.
Howard and Steve were also awarded belt buckles for their tied first place finishes at the Nemiah Mountain Race in August.
This year’s sportsmanship award went to retired racer Chief Roger William for all his efforts behind the scenes.
“Roger is the backbone of the organization. He deserved to be honoured.”
Lulua said it was also announced at the banquet that local film maker Trevor Mack is planning to film a documentary on the mountain racers next year.