Danielle Parks racing

Danielle Parks, owner of Indian Creek Racing Productions comes around the second barrel in her session. Photo By Stan Schwartz

Racing production company works within social distancing guidelines

 

CURRYVILLE—It’s a new concept for barrel racing, said Danielle Parks, the owner of Indian Creek Racing Productions. She started the company last year as a way to provide a safe, affordable and convenient way for barrel racers to compete.

She didn’t know who came up with the concept for barrel racing in sessions, but she took the idea and ran with it.

Friday afternoon and evening at the J Circle K Arena off of Pike 32 in Curryville riders came, competed and then went home as their classes came up during the day. Each class could have no more than 10 riders, but most were smaller, although that didn’t mean ICRP skimped on the prizes it awarded the winner from each session.

The arena is owned by Jim and Karen Harrower. ICRP rents the arena for the races.

Parks said they normally have a few races each month, but this one was their last for the season, because the weather becomes a little more unpredictable. They normally start the races earlier in the year—about June. But next year, she said, they plan on starting the races in April and run them through October at the J Circle K.

Parks said how grateful she was for the help she received from Jim and Karen Harrower in establishing her company, because this is the first year for ICRP. She started the company last September.

“And now we have it down to a fine science,” she said. Helping her out that day was her sponsorship manager, Breanna Hurt. ICRP has had 15 shows since June.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said, because a lot of barrel races got shutdown because of COVID this year. That’s when she heard about the sessions concept for running the races.

When racers sign up, they get a time slot to run, so there’s no more than 10 riders in the arena per session. They come in, they race, and they leave so the next group of racers can compete. Each session has a different class of riders, so even the most novice riders can compete and possibly win a prize.

With regular barrel races, she explained, all the riders compete and only the fastest rider gets the prize.

“When you go to barrel races,” she said, “it’s like a whole day thing, like 12 hours. It’s so long. So I thought this session thing could be a game changer.” Right now, ICRP is the only company in the area that’s using sessions, she added, but others are starting to adopt the concept. “It’s just so convenient for everyone.”

“People who ran at 4 p.m. have already gone home,” she said, as she was prepping the arena for the 5 p.m. racers. And between the races there is sufficient down time for riders to practice in the arena.

Hurt said she was incredibly happy that Parks brought her on to help out with the company. 

“I’m pretty excited for next year,” Parks said. She already had most of the race dates booked for the season.

Parks said she worked for a few other racing production companies for about four years before she decided to start her own. After COVID hit, the restrictions on travel made her previous job difficult. Starting a company that offered races locally seemed the right way to go.

“If there ever was a time to start one,” she said, “this is it.” She saw a need for a company like hers and made it happen. “It’s a great way to have a lot of fun and pay people (for winning) and hand out a lot of buckles.”

Along with the cash prizes for the top finisher in each class, Park’s company gives out custom made belt buckles to the winners.

“They’re pretty cool,” Hurt said.

Parks had to hop on her horse right then for a practice run in the arena in preparation for the class she was racing in that day. She said she was pretty good but couldn’t compete with some of the professional barrel racers that sometimes enter her races.

Karen Harrower said her family has lived out that way for years, but she and her husband bought the house across the road just a few years ago. Their place before this one wasn’t really big enough for races like this.

“We enjoy having the barrel races here,” she said. “I used to barrel race when I was younger.” In fact, she still takes a few runs in the arena, competing with her horses.

Hurt said she started helping Parks two years ago before the company was formed. They would travel to various barrel races across the country. She also started barrel racing about then, as well.

“I don’t even know how many states we’ve been to, traveling with different horses,” Hurt said. “I’ve won thousands of bucks on her (she indicated her horse) and a few belt buckles. It’s really cool. I also do high school rodeos, which I think is really good.”

She said she thought races like this one were extremely important to youth riders because it gives them a stepping stone into the professional side of barrel racing. “A lot of these races are youth suitable and fun,” she added. “You can have horses like Danielle’s horse and my horse and have them run on safe ground.” Even more experienced riders would enjoy the races, she said. “It’s for everybody, and everybody can have a good time.”

“I’m only 17, and I’m out here helping Danielle produce races, and helping people who ride $50,000 horses, and going everywhere. It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

Check out their Facebook page for more information on coming events next year.

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