GUTHRIE, Okla. – Ask any of the bull riders competing in this day and age, and most can explain the history of the sport.
Dozens of bull riders will be carrying on that legacy and testing their talents at Bullnanza presented by Lane Frost Brand, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Lazy E Arena. Tickets can be purchased at McCoyRodeo.com.
“It’s a legendary bull riding, and I’m pretty excited they’re bringing it back this year,” said Josh Frost, a four-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier from Randlett, Utah. “It was one of the first stand-alone bull ridings ever, and it was around for a long time.
“I know Lane Frost Brand is sponsoring it, and they’re one of my sponsors. It should be a pile of great bulls and great money up for grabs.”
Josh Frost is a second cousin to the late Lane Frost, who was instrumental in the original Bullnanza in 1989. He helped produce the event, lining up bull riders and bulls to be part of the bull riding. He also competed alongside many other stars in that era. The 1987 world champion from southeastern Oklahoma was killed five months after the first Bullnanza, and his life and legacy were memorialized in the movie “8 Seconds.”
“This is Bullnanza, and the history in that building and the namesake of that bull riding is something you want to be involved in,” said Brennon Eldred, a four-time NFR qualifier and four-time PBR World Finals qualifier from Sulphur, Oklahoma. “It’s a pretty big deal, and it’ll be a pretty big deal to be the first event back for me and to try to get the win.
“It would be great to put my name in the history books as a Bullnanza champion.”
That’s the goal of all 60 men who have put their name in the hat to compete this coming weekend. Just as it was the case 34 years ago during the inaugural Bullnanza, the event is an Oklahoma production. McCoy Rodeo owner Cord McCoy is the man behind the scenes bringing the legendary bull riding back to its original home at the Lazy E.
With $15,000 in sponsorship money mixed with the entry fees of 60 cowboys, the purse is expected to exceed $20,000. That is a nice incentive for the men who utilize that money in many ways; in rodeo, dollars not only pay bills but also serve as championship points. The top 15 bull riders on the money list at the end of the regular season will advance to the NFR.
“I’m going to be out in San Antonio that weekend, and it worked out that I could trade my semifinals there so I can be at Guthrie on Friday,” said Frost, the reigning two-time reserve world champion. “With that kind of money, it’s worth the trip up there, then I will go back to San Antonio for Saturday’s short round.”
There will be 30 bull rides each night, and all cowboys will be matched with top stock, including McCoy’s Ridin’ Solo, which was named the 2020 PBR Bull of the Year. Solo also was selected to buck at the 2022 NFR, proving his worth across multiple levels.
“I’ve seen him about every trip the last few years, and he’s awesome,” Eldred said of the Oklahoma-raised bull. “I’ve never been on him. I’d like to have a crack at him. I couldn’t think of a better place than the Laze E. If the time’s right, I’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
While he’s focused on the PBR the last five years, Eldred is excited to make his return to PRCA events. Bullnanza, which was a precursor to the PBR three decades ago, is part of the 2023 Xtreme Bulls tour. The Oklahoma bull rider understands the event’s place in rodeo history; not only has he competed at a Bullnanza, but his father-in-law, Donald Owens, was one of the big names in the 1990s.
“The legends paved the way for us to do this,” Eldred said. “It’s so cool. I’m going to try to rodeo more this year and try to get back to the yellow bucking chutes (at the NFR). I’m excited to kick it off there. There’s so much history at the Lazy E that you feel a different vibe when you get inside that building.”
If history could talk, it would do it at the Lazy E, and the topic would be Bullnanza.