We receive a high number of questions on barrel racing formats. In this article we’re going to address these questions.
As we go through the article we’re going to assume you’ve just started producing or maybe thinking about it. Literally, we’re assuming you’ve never produced a race ever.
Format can mean very different things and there can be many combinations of what’s considered a “format”. The following is ours.
Setting the Foundation
The beginning is everything. Everything you do from the get go is foundational to your productions future growth. With that said, begin with the end in mind. How do you see your production/organization 4-5 years from now? Literally sit and write this out.
The way you describe your production/organization very much influences the riders it attracts (important in the next section). So make sure you put efficient thought into what you envision this becoming. Get romantic with it.
Imagine things for how you would have them be instead of how they are”
Once you have the vision, now comes design. Yes, design. Any other description does no justice. Great design eliminates human nuances yet very much factors human behavior.
Who does your foundation speak to? What rider does your vision attract? In other words, who is your audience?
Believe it or not, there are many different types of riders in this industry. Knowing who they are is crucial. A great format knows its audience, what best serves them and their behaviors.
Point: your riders are what influence the design of your format. To give you an example, we’re going to take you through our vision and why we designed our format the way we did.
The Gold Standard
When the GFR team sat down to think about what Go Fast would be, there was a lot considered! Long story short, we came to the conclusion that we wanted to build something that stood for simplicity, flexibility, consistency and community.
While being guided by these principles we further more wanted Go Fast to stand & speak for the riders who’ve dedicated their lives to the barrel racing industry like we have. We wanted to attract a variety of riders such as trainers, elite & aspiring competitors, futurity stars, rodeo’ers, D Format racers, young to wise, all the way to your point system enthusiast!
If these riders came to our event, we wanted our purple paychecks to be a bragging right. We wanted them to feel as if they were royalty. This birthed our purple and gold color scheme (of Royalty & Champions) and our Gold Standards.
These are the things we thought about and considered when originally formatting our races. As you can tell, it’s paid off.
When we started in 2017, we thought we needed multiple events to attract more riders. In reality we were just insecure about having a lot of down time, as it tends to look bad.
Having downtime is innate and natural when you’re just starting out. If anything, use this time as an opportunity to build your community and interact with people who ARE actually there, vs. worrying about who isn’t.
Ever heard the saying being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive? This was very much the case for us in 2017. When we started taking away certain events (like straight away barrels, LOLOL), ironically we started seeing growth.
Point: Less is more. I have a phrase I use that reminds me to keep things simple both at the event and when I’m making tech. innovations or what ever it may be.
Keep It Super Stupid Simple”
– Gilly Angel
-Yes I quoted myself!
Our next step was flexibility. It can also be said as having awareness/being smart. It’s a combination of, again, knowing who your riders are, and setting yourself up for success by giving yourself the best opportunity possible.
Our Slack & Afternoon sessions are slaying the game! The whole reason I’m writing this article is because we’ve noticed other producers have taken note and are copying what we’re doing. We love it!
Good artists copy. Great artists steal”
– Pablo Picasso
Naturally, having a split day is great for MANY logical reasons:
- There’s a crazy amount of choices to pick from when it comes to barrel races. Having a split day gives riders fundamentally more options, opportunity and time.
- It gives our WHOLE team a mental break. If you’ve ever announced/worked a race with hundreds of riders, you know what I’m talking about.
- It allows us to SCALE (remember, begin with the end in mind). As we continue to grow, slack continues to grow. This also allows you to control the way it grows and how
- It accommodates weather conditions. In the summer riders may want to race in the morning when its cool and vise versa
- Opportunity cost: If you’re crazy like us to rent out a 5 Star facility for a day, you better make every second count. Why have one session and call a quits? Giving your riders more opportunity gives you more as well.
These are a few of the reasons we have split days. We advise you do the same if just starting.
Keeping things consistent is the next thing to pay attention to. After “keeping it Super Stupid Simple”, don’t fix what ain’t broke!
We humans are very intricate beings. I believe this single handedly is why we tend to over complicate stupid simple stuff like fishing. The last thing you want is taking something Super Stupid Simple and make it Critically Concerning Calculus.
Have you ever walked into a calculus class- not even calculus but say Algebra and have genuine concern for your future? Have you ever walked out with your life critically threatened?
Don’t do this to your good ole folks…just don’t do it. Develop something simple and once you have, do the same thing every single time. Once you start to see growth, than you can make changes accordingly.
Allow me to fact check for a sec. Producing Barrel Races is a volume game. If you don’t get the numbers you’ll go out of business. Period.
No barrel racing production has ever…”specialized” to one specific type of rider and stayed alive. If they have/are, they got money to burn. This is not the case for the majority of producers.
With that said, being inclusive is important, and to us means gearing toward as many riders as you can. How do you gear a format toward mass riders while also keeping a professional, competitive and inviting energy?
One way, and the most important way in our opinion, is through a foundational standard of treating everyone the same. Regardless if they’re an NFR Champion or someone you’ve never heard of, treat everyone the exact same. No more, no less.
Doing this prevents riders from taking advantage of you as a producer and you becoming an unethical one. Yes, it’s a real thing and this is where producers and organizations can get caught up. In efforts to please riders many producers may end up bending the rules or playing favorites.
Instead, be inviting, encouraging, appreciative, and nuke them with kindness at all times without breaking integrity. I know this sounds really obvious but you’d be surprised how easily producers/organizations can fall short of this and how far it’ll take you.
Another way is through the incentives, classes and “extras” you offer. Below is a list of Classes, incentives & extra’s we offer at every single weekend race.
Note: Keep your entry fees at a price everyone can afford. It makes absolutely no business sense to price people out in a volume-based business. Have “premium” add-ons/upsells (our Go Pro, Futurity & Derby & incentives)
Open – Youth – Go Pro – Futurity – Derby
Adult – Senior
Prelim – Exhibitions – Rehab
A third rule of thumb I’ve learned though high level mentors is simply over deliver. Bend over backwards and be good at kissing a$$. Just make sure it’s everyone’s a$$. Provide so much value and customer service that customers wouldn’t dare give you a bad rap. In other words, be better and do better than your competition. At the end of the day, that’s what this is, a competition. Not a tea party.
I’ve created a section for technology because it can have a huge impact on your format. This industry is behind in modern technology. I know it, you know it, and everybody knows it! It’s so behind that it’s hard for some people in the industry to conceive how it saves you and your riders time.
If you’ve raced with us, you know we take our own online entries and that they never close. Even in the midst of a race, riders can enter while in their truck on their phone making their way to our race. This feature has gotten more last second decision makers to our race than added money ever will.
If you want riders to show, make things easy. Imagine all the extra riders who didn’t show because an entry process was like going through navy seal training (or waiting to get registration papers back! AHHHAHA!)
Keep in mind; I’m just talking about an entry process alone. We also have technology implemented to collect W9’s, Waivers, issue direct deposits, online rider accounts and so much more behind the curtain. You’d be surprised how simple processes also lead to simpler rules…..(hint hint)
Our ability to make things simple and accessible through available technology has allowed us grow more than any other factor. It’s allowed us to produce more ROI (return on investment) for our sponsors and reach more riders directly and faster. Call our sponsors yourself just to see, they’ll be glad to tell you! 😉
This section is simply a place of reference. Below I’ve linked important information you’re free to copy.
Rules – We try to keep our rules as simple as possible. Less policing = Better experience.
Schedule – Here you’ll see how our format is scheduled
Rider Accounts – See for yourself
To put a cherry on top, be audacious. There’s nothing more attractive to the human psyche than contrast. There’s nothing more contrasting than pure visceral audacity.
Fear not of trying new things, standing out nor be fazed by what people might think. The more you grow, the more people talk. Do you.