The All Nations Indian Relay Championships is the super bowl and world series of Indian relay combined. It is the season ending race meet where the top teams are invited to determine the best team in the universe. To receive an invitation teams must compete all season long to earn points in PIHRA sanctioned events. Only the top 30 teams are invited to the championships. Teams also compete for additional prize money and the honor of season high point champion.
The “All Nations Indian Relay Championships” consists of 3 days of qualifying heats where all 30 teams race to determine who gets seated in the Sunday championships and consolations. Each day teams are divided into 6 heats of 5 teams each and they race head to head. The top 5 teams advance to the championships, the second 5 the consolations, and sub-consolations. Sunday the best race head to head to determine the best in the world and for $75,000 in cash and prizes.
BILLINGS, Mont.— Record crowds, cultural celebration, patriotic ceremonies, fun food, great sponsors, thrilling relay races, and honored champions all were celebrated under the beautiful Montana skies in Billings, Mont. This event marked the Third Annual All Nations Relay Race Championships this past weekend, September 17-20.
Four days of Indian Relay Races culminated in the final heat on Sunday afternoon, during which Omak Express of Colville Confederated Tribes of Washington State won top honors. 28 Relay teams from 15 Horse Nations qualified to compete for more than $85,000 in cash, travel, advance and prizes, and the coveted Champions’ jackets and buckles. These elite teams battled each day to earn a spot in the season-ending Championship race on Sunday, September, 20.
The tribes from many nations were represented, and leading the groups were the Blackfeet, Crows, Sioux and Colville Confederated tribes. The vision of the teams, along with that of entire membership, is for relay to become a viable economic and cultural entity for the reservations.
All-Out Fun for Fans
Spectators cheered for three exciting and entertaining races every day – Indian Warriors’ Race, Indian Ladies’ Race and Kids’ Indian Relay – each culminating with its own Championship race on Sunday. Veteran Indian Relay announcers Kennard Real Bird and Randy Taylor elevated this event with running commentary for all relay races.
The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association (PIHRA) was founded to promote Indian Relay, horsemanship and safety. PIHRA has developed a season-long championship series, culminating with the All Nations Indian Relay Championships. There were 17 founding teams in 2013; two years later, PIHRA membership is growing rapidly with more teams coming on-board constantly. Only the top teams are selected to attend three days of qualifying rounds to determine the six teams that will advance to the finals. Those not in the top six will battle it out during the first, second and third consolation races prior to the championship race on the final day of the Championships.
For more information about PIHRA and the All Nations Indian Relay Championships, visitwww.letsrelay.com, follow “Professional Indian Horse Racing Association” on Facebook or checkout Indian Relay videos on YouTube.
That’s why we should get the deal done now — bring back the All Nations Indian Relay Championships. The four-day event held last weekend at MetraPark brought plenty of folks to town to see what will hopefully be an annual event.
We hope folks in Billings realize: This could be something big. And the community has a chance to be a part of that. Let’s not sit around. Let’s get this unique event back in Billings to stay awhile.
Event promoters reported very good success during the weekend event.
The Billings Gazette’s Jordon Niedermeier reported, “The weekend’s total purse surpassed $78,000, the largest in the three-year history of the Professional Indian Horse Relay Association. PIHRA officials reported about 15,000 tickets sold over the four days of the event. The relays were successful enough to put more money in the pockets of relay teams than expected and invest in the sanctioning body’s future.”
Beyond the competition and helping to raise funds to expand the event, this brought revenue into town. It’s events like these that bring folks who stay in motels, eat at restaurants, shop at stores. Moreover, it adds to the entertainment options in Billings as well as gives local residents — and those not too far away — another choice.
And Billings should have an event like this. We have covered and watched hundreds of people attend a similar event at Crow Fair every summer. With our rich Native cultural heritage in the area, this event could also help us promote our area’s history better.
The Gazette covered the relays throughout the weekend, including spectacular online photo galleries by photographer Hannah Potes, and had several people calling to say they wanted even more coverage. It was an event that seemed to generate even more interest than organizers and planners had expected.
So this is the question: What can Billings and the rest of the community do to make sure this event continues to come here? What can we do to expand this to make it something to celebrate the cultures and participants? How can this be a more permanent part of our offerings?
These are the types of events — beyond just big-name concerts — that will help Billings continue to capitalize on our diverse tourism offerings. It’s not just the concerts. It’s not just shopping. It’s not just dining. It’s all the offerings that will help continue to draw folks from a wider and wider area. The more we grow our cultural and entertainment offerings, the money will be pumped into our local economy.
So, for those in Billings who keep on repeating the same tired line: There’s nothing to do here.
Those folks just aren’t looking hard enough.
The VIP experience at the 2015 All Nations Indian Relay Championships-Sept 17-20th
Imagine celebrating the most exciting sporting event of the year in a private box affording the best view of the races and the jumbotron. Supported by close convenient access to a private club providing a choice buffet and private beverage service. Imagine a limited very select group of tribal officials, important sponsors and VIP’s with access to a wonderfully decorated, comfortable club like environment reserved for a very few discerning individuals. That is the Painted Pony Club at the 2015 All Nations Indian Relay Championships.
Only 220 spots, reserved for our most important sponsors, guests and VIP’s. Good food and drink, private trackside tables, good camaraderie, and wonderful hosts and hostesses. That is the painted pony club. Decorated as a celebration to Indian Relay. Conveniently located at the West End of the second floor of the MetraPark Grandstands. VIP parking. VIP access. VIP accommodations. VIP Experience.
Available only to a select few who appreciate the best.
Call or order on line to reserve you place with this unique group today. Season tickets only (for all 4 nights). Right of first refusal for next season. Call today.
MetraPark: 800-366-8538 or 406-256-2422
The relays involve three-person teams.
The riders circle the track three times
on three different horses.
Photo Gallery-Photos Courtesy of Diana Volk
PIHRA 2015 Championship Day Timed Positions