A Foothills Comp grad has got some outstanding teachers as he heads out in his new profession.
They are grandpa and dad – Professors Kelly “the King” Sutherland and Mark Sutherland, respectively, at the school of hard knocks known as the World Professional Chuckwagon Association circuit.
“There is always something different or new – it’s is so crazy,” the 19-year-old Sutherland said at the Guy Weadick Days races in High River on June 24. “Every second it seems grandpa or dad is helping me.
“It’s actually quite unique because they are different style of drivers. I kind of pick things up from both of them. I take what I like from one guy and something else from another – hopefully, I can get the best of both worlds.”
It’s like taking piano lessons from Beethoven and Glenn Gould.
Kelly is a 12-time world and Calgary Stampede champion while Mark has won three titles on the WPCA tour.
Right now, Dayton is like Schroeder from Charlie Brown — striving to be Beethoven, but he’s got a ways to go.
He has some experience driving wagons going into this season. He ran in a few shows late last season, after Rae Croteau Jr. retired. Dayton was the first call-up after missing the cut by one in the WPCA 2016 runoff.
At present, he sits 35th in the 36 driver WPCA.
“I am just trying to learn, I am obviously not going to win the worlds,” Dayton said. “I just want to prepare for the future.”
He admits there is some pressure being a Sutherland, but it’s worth it.
“I have always been a Sutherland and it’s been kind of over my shoulder,” Dayton said. “But I grew up with it and I don’t let it come across my mind.”
However, besides learning from the best driver in history and his son, there are other advantages to being a Sutherland.
“Since I was 16, I have been buying the odd horse,” Dayton said. “I have four or five of my own, but I am borrowing lots from them.”
It also helps with hauling horses.
He uses the Sutherland equipment in the How-do-they-make-ends-meet? world of chuckwagon racing.
Dayton plans to get his truck driving licence in the offseason.
There’s one thing the Dayton is doing that grandpa and dad aren’t. Dayton is still outriding to help pay the bills.
“Outriding is a great source of money and for me it would be crazy not to,” said Dayton, who was selected for the Rod Glass Memorial Award as the WPCA’s most improved outrider last season. “I got better at it last year. I plan to outride for a bit longer because I need the money.
“You also learn -- you get to see a lot of races and that is one of the things I take out of it.”
He is going to be busy outriding. As a rookie, he didn’t qualify to drive chucks at the Calgary Stampede. Dayton hopes to get plenty of rides at The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
One of the wagons he will chase is his dad’s - who couldn’t be prouder to see another Sutherland grabbing the reins.
“It’s a different sport than it was when I started 25 years ago, the competition is tougher,” Mark said. “There’s a lot of pressure having the Sutherland name and that doesn’t come from me —that’s all dad. No one is going to fill the shoes of dad.
“Dayton will figure that out. Hey, I don’t worry about winning 12 world championships, I worry about winning one.”
There are currently five Sutherlands on the WPCA circuit.
They are Kelly, Mark and Dayton. As well there are Kelly’s brother Kirk and his son Mitch.