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Rodeo vs. racing + Tuf Cooper vs. Steve Torrence vs. = Horsepower Shootout

by Mike Haag | Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

By Mike Haag

ENNIS, Texas – Three-time World Champion Roper and eight-time National Finals Rodeo qualifier Tuf Cooper and 2018 NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Steve Torrence competed Wednesday in the first-ever Horsepower Shootout.

Tuf Cooper and Steve Torrence get ready to compete in the Horsepower Shootout calf roping event. Photo by Elon Werner/Tony Fay PR

The event pitted cowboy against racer in a contest that consisted of three competitions – break away roping, cowboy hat shaping and drag racing at the famed Texas Motorplex, which will be the site of this October’s AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals.

“The Horsepower Shootout has been a success,” Steve Torrence said.  “He schooled me on calf roping. I battled my way back into this thing with the hat shaping competition and the jury is still out on this drag race deal.  The good thing is that it’s kind of like calf roping. It’s a timed event and we are going to have to go to clocks on it.”

The day began with Cooper and Torrence squaring off in a roping competition where each competitor receive three attempts with the fastest time winning.

After the roping competition the pair traveled to the Best Hat Store in Fort Worth where they both attempted to shape cowboy hats and the store’s hatshapers served as the contest judges.

NHRA Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence attempts to shape a Cowboy hat at the Horsepower Shootout hat shaping event. Photo by Elon Werner/Tony Fay PR

Torrence said he was amazed at Cooper’s horse riding and calf roping skills that he witnessed during the calf roping competition.

“I had a lot of respect on what he’s done before today but even more after going through this morning’s pretty good schooling in the calf roping,”Torrence said.  “It’s a completely different world. He’s the best at it and to go out and see what he does and see it in person and really just given what we shared together today is pretty unique.”

The final competition was held at the Texas Motorplex where the pair competed in a drag racing competition where the two Texans raced each other in Dodge Hellcat Challengers.

“I’ve driven a lot of fast stuff and I was very impressed with the Dodge Hellcat,” Torrence said.  “This thing is so fast and powerful that it had a hard time hooking up. It took a little finesse and driving to get this thing down the Texas Motorplex.”

Tuf Cooper and Steve Torrence race each other in the Horsepower Shootout drag racing event at the Texas Motorplex. Photo by Elon Werner/Tony Fay PR

Cooper said he was amazed how much he learned from Torrence about professional drag racing.

“I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it to Steve’s level but I am already a huge fan of this sport and I love it,” Cooper said.  “I’ve learned so much about it from Steve and to be able to compete against the best has been so much fun. Being able to share what I do has been amazing and learning everything about his racing style is so awesome.”

In response, Torrence also had good things to say about Cooper regarding the drag race competition.

“I am going to have to back him up,” Torrence said.  “He has what it takes. We had a little bit of a short tutorial to go through on how to drive and what we were doing on the tree. He goes out there and he’s pretty stellar on the tree and straight out of the box. I thought, ‘man I might have my work cut out for me.’  So if it doesn’t work out in the rodeo industry and he gets a little too worn out out there on the road we will just hop in the jet and go drag racing.”

NHRA Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence gives Tuf Cooper a few pointers prior to the start of the Horsepower Shootout drag racing event at the Texas Motorplex. Photo by Elon Werner/Tony Fay PR

Torrence will return to the dragstrip again this weekend where he will be competing in the Virgina Nationals.  He has won two of the seven races that have been held this season and he currently leads Brittany Force by 96 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series point standings.

“We are going to try to go there and try to keep the momentum going with the race car,” Torrence said.  “Those Capco boys are doing unbelievable and we had this discussion earlier that when everything is going good we’ve got that confidence.  We’ve got it right now so we are going to try to keep it going.”

Texas Motorplex and Torrence also announced Wednesday that the track is teaming up with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to offer military and first responders free tickets to the annual NHRA national event, which will be held October 17-20.

“I have been a supporter of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation for many years,” Torrence said.  “This is an awesome promotion by the Texas Motorplex and I am proud to have Capco Contractors involved as well. Everyone needs to show their appreciation to our military and first responders whenever they can. This is just one small way for me to say, ‘Thank you’ to so many people who have made and continue to make sacrifices for our country and Texas.”

Fans who buy tickets to the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals today through Memorial Day weekend will receive 20% off their order and for every ticket purchased the Texas Motorplex will donate a ticket good for Saturday admission to the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to be gifted to a military or first responder couple through their Date Night Out program. Additionally, those guests will be invited to a VIP meet and greet with Torrence during the Saturday qualifying session.

“The Motorplex has a long tradition of supporting our military and first responders,” said Andy Carter, Texas Motorplex General Manager. “We thought this would be an appropriate time to reward our fans with a discounted ticket and let them reward a military or first responder with their order. Everyone wins with this ‘Buy a Ticket, Give a Ticket’ promotion.”

Fans can purchase tickets using the discount code “FROG” by calling 1-800-MOTORPLEX or ordering at

To listen to the with Dawn Hall, Mike Haag, Steve Torrence and Tuf Cooper, click here.

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.

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