This weekend Afton will host a Star Valley tradition and rowdy winter sport: chariot racing.
The sport itself is simple: drivers stand in lightweight aluminum chariots pulled by two horses and the fastest time around the track wins.
Toby Merritt is the head of the committee in charge of the Shriners Chariot Races and he has seen just how chaotic the races can be, “In a sense, it’s a controlled runaway, it’s amazing.” Merritt continued, “It’s a kick in the pants, how fun it is.”
The races started decades ago as a friendly competition in Star Valley. Toby Merritt said, “it started in Thayne, farmers just hooked a couple of horses together, their work horses, and they would bet on each other and run down main street in Thayne.”
Since then, the races have added chariots and the events have grown and spread. Even though they were in Star Valley for decades, they eventually moved to Jackson. While there, the races were run on a snow track, but the time and effort needed to maintain the track became unsustainable and the races were cancelled.
This opened them up to start again in Star Valley last year.
Racing teams come from Utah, Idaho, and across Wyoming.
The races will be held on February 13 and 14 at noon at 1489 Allred Lane in Afton and all the money raised will go to Shriners Hospitals for Children. There will be concessions available for purchase, and this year’s vendors will include a beer garden.
Toby Merritt said, “Come and support a great cause, enjoy watching the horses run, and have fun with it.”
Races will be broadcast LIVE with SVI Media.