30 YEARS OF THE GSTRC
 
2012 GSTRC....March 9th & 10th
 
The 30th Annual George Strait Team Roping Classic will take place on March 9th & 10th at the San Antonio Rose Palace in San Antonio, Texas. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long.

In 1983, gas was $1.29, bread $.66 and a stamp wasn't even a quarter yet. A young country singer named George Strait had celebrated a couple of number one songs “Fool Hearted Memory” and “A Fire I Can’t Put Out.”

But deep in the heart of Texas, Strait and his older brother Buddy were entertaining another passion - and one Texas sized idea. “Let’s have an open team roping event.” The Strait brothers created the First Annual George Strait Team Roping Classic.

Being ropers themselves and very passionate about the sport, George and Buddy set out with one main goal. 'Have a good roping, have fun doing it and try to give good prizes and payout.' With an entry fee of $250 a team, the Texas-Residents Only roping event began in Kingsville, TX with 137 teams signed up. Back then, there was also a post event concert from the rising country music star.

The first year’s winning team, Jack and Jackie Stephenson (father and son) were awarded saddles. It soon became obvious that if the roping was going to grow, it would need to be open to all ropers around the world and that’s what happened. The event grew swiftly from 179 teams to 265 in 1985, 367 in 1988, 422 in 1989 and 462 in 1990 – seven years after it all began. In 1990, the tradition of awarding the Grand Prize winners with a truck and Bruton Trailer was born.. Jack Stephenson and Rich Skelton were the lucky recipients. The next year over a 100 more teams competed with a record breaking 590 teams.

In 2000, the event moved to it’s new home at the San Antonio Rose Palace. Today’s roping consists of over 500 teams competing in preliminaries with the Top 50 returning the next day for the finals. The list has grown into the “Who's Who” of the roping world...with names like Allen Bach, Jake Barnes, Bobby Hurley, Clay O' Brien, Steve Purcell, Rich Skelton, Speed Williams, Nick Sartain, David Keys and Tee Woolman, just to name a few.

'I'm proud to be able to say we are the largest open roping event out there and our sponsors are responsible for a major part of that success,' acknowledges George Strait.

Over three decades, the prizes and payout have continued grow as well with overall totals well into the multi-millions. Last year’s total pay out and prizes alone totaled $650,000+. Grand Champions Key (Header) and Corkill (Heeler) rode away with custom painted GSTRC Championship Chevy Silverado Duallies from Cavendar Chevrolet (Boerne, TX), Strait X-treme horse trailers from Bruton Trailers, Twister saddles from Tractor Supply, Resitol roping bags, jackets from Wrangler and Justin, Montana Silversmith belt buckles and half of the $174,600 cash payoff.

“The core team is the same except for the passing of my brother Buddy,” notes George. “Needless to say, we miss him dearly. Pete Wright and his incredible team the roping for years. Collie Webb also has been there from the start and he has always made sure all of the ground work was done. We now have Arkie Kiehne announcing the roping along with his great team of assistants. Reed Flake also helps him announce, our chute help, flagger Johhny Garcia and the list goes on and on with many more who contribute.”

With 30 years under their belt buckle, what better way to reflect than with the ropers this event started with:

Nick Sartain:
'It's my kind of roping. Best jackpot of the year. I look forward to it more than any other roping all year long. It suits my style the best. The barrier is shorter and the steers are fresh. You’ve got to handle them good. It’s only a three header on Saturday. I'm pretty aggressive and this roping calls for you to be fast.'

David Keys:
'Thirty years of the George Strait roping means to me. Lots of payouts, lots of trucks, lots of trailers and lots of memories for me. I've been going for 26 years now and finally won it last year. That was the biggest win of my life. With what George gives away, not only does it make a great pay, it makes a great year. His roping actually changes lives for ropers. George turned this roping into something that probably none of us dreamed of it being 20 years ago.'

Tee Woolman:
'It's grown into probably the largest open roping in the world, if it's not the largest. George and Norma do an outstanding job. They do an outstanding job with all their sponsors too. They changed the format up a little bit last year and has made changes with the times to make it bigger and better every year. It’s a great roping for the fans to watch and it’s a great roping for the contestants.'

Rich Skelton:
'I really enjoy the roping because for one, it's texas and and two, it's the best roping going. It’s the roping where you can win the most money. We have the greatest ropers in the world and the greatest singer in the world. George is a great host and a good friend of ours. To me it doesn't get any better than that.'

Today, the average price of gas is $3.31, bread $2.00 and email has replaced the hand-written letter. That young country music star recently celebrated his 58th Number one single “Here For A Good Time,” has sold nearly 69 million records and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

But it is that modest event that began 30 years ago in Kingsville,TX by two brothers that has the “King of Country” in awe today. The George Strait Team Roping Classic has become one of the most sought after events to win - not just for the prizes but to complete a roper’s resume.

“I can’t believe it has been 30 years...30 great years,” says Strait. “It’s amazing. If you want to see team roping at it’s best, come out and watch. All the World Champions are here. Enter up boys and girls!”