Rendle Brothers Racing: From Cows to Cars - Cowsmo

Rendle Brothers Racing: From Cows to Cars

Most people recognize the Rendle name as being synonymous with showing cattle all over North America, the “Stanhope” part of the Stanhope-Wedgwood partnership. But a long-time, fast-paced hobby is what is keeping Gord and Rod Rendle busy these days.

The brothers grew up racing cars at Western Speedway in Victoria, BC. They got into it via their mom’s sister, Ann Midgely’s family, who has been racing cars at the speedway since the 1950’s. In fact, their uncle, the late Reg Midgely, was inducted into the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. “It’s like going to a family reunion,” says Gord, whose cousin Darrell is the promotor at the speedway now, a position that has been held by someone in the family since the beginning.

Gord enjoyed racing cars until he was around 17 years old, “and then we went farming full time,” he says. About 14 years ago, they had the opportunity to get back into racing more regularly, and since they aren’t milking cows at Stanhope anymore, the timing was good.

Now you can see the Rendle Brothers Racing outfit in the pit at between 15-20 events per year, anywhere from their home track in Victoria, to events in the midwestern United States and California. The season starts mid-May and finishes up in November.

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The ride of choice is a “Winged Sprint Car” which Gord says “is like the Holstein of sprint cars, it’s the fastest and the best.” The car averages approximately 105 mph (169 km/hr), which is 3 seconds faster than any other type of sprint car and is referred to as “open-wheel”, meaning it has no fenders.

Three key people travel with Rod and Gord to all the races, including their driver Aaron Willison, and Dale Taylor of Taylor Custom Metalcraft, who can fix pretty much anything in a pinch. A few extra people help out getting the car ready when they are racing at home.

Aaron has been driving for Rendle Brothers for just over a year now. “I used to run my own car, but its more cost effective to drive someone else’s,” says Aaron. “I’ve been driving winged sprint cars now for 3 years, and other cars for 14 years before that. It’s amazing what you can do with these cars, there is so much traction and power, it’s a lot of fun!” Another mainstay on the team, James Campbell shares Aaron’s sentiment that working for Rod and Gord is a lot of fun, “it’s a family camaraderie on this team especially,” he says. “Rod and Gord have a top-quality outfit here and it’s fun to be one of the best and work with the best in North America. We have the ability and the equipment to win every night,” says James.

The team has had a pretty good season so far, which was highlighted a month ago in Monroe, WA, where they not only won the Rory Price Memorial Race for the second year in a row, they broke a track record doing it. “That is one of the biggest races on our circuit,” says Gord, “it’s like winning the Royal!”

Believe it or not, there are many other similarities between car racing and show cows as well. “You certainly get out what you put into it,” says Gord, who is still actively involved in the decision making of the Stanhope-Wedgwood partnership. “Car racing revolves around friends, fun and competition and that isn’t much different than showing cows.” While Gord still travels regularly to Madison, the Royal, and other major shows, Rod keeps busy with the Stanhope Organics business that is now housed at the farm and feeds about 400 head of cattle as well.

“I love car racing and we’re pretty good at it,” says Gord, “but showing cows is what we do, and I’d still choose that first any day.”

I took in my first winged sprint car race when I did the interview for this article. It was bustling in the pit at Western Speedway, where Rendle Brothers Racing, along with over 20 other crews were competing for the Daffodil Cup – the biggest race for winged sprint cars at Western. Watching the boys get the car out on the track reminded me of getting a cow out to the ring. Attention to detail was paramount as they measured tire tread, the balance between the four tires, the height of the frame from the ground and consulted a detailed log book of information from previous practice laps. It was exciting (and loud!) and very fast!

And although cows travel a little slower in a circle than a sprint car, the thrilling feeling of watching your car cross the finish line and the accolades that follow, rival the thrill of leading a great one around on the coloured shavings. And having done both? Well that excitement is what keeps the Rendle Brothers coming back for more, both at the track and in the show ring.

Follow them on Facebook at Rendle Brothers Racing

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