Brand experience agency Momentum Worldwide and multi-platform creative studio Flight School have developed a multi-player VR experience for truck manufacturer GMC celebrating the latter’s longstanding relationship with the Calgary Stampede, a ten-day rodeo that kicks off July 7, and offering a new twist on a marquis event: Chuckwagon racing.
According to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, a chuckwagon is a covered wagon driven by a cook on cattle drives and is where men gathered to eat at the end of a long day.
Since then, it has become something of a symbol of the Wild West, and, per the World Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA), chuckwagon racing was the brainchild of Calgary Stampede founder Guy Weadick, with the first races taking place in 1923. As the name implies, a chuckwagon race driver leads of team of horses pulling a chuckwagon around a track.
And GMC isn’t just paying lip service to Calgary Stampede attendees with this effort – today, it is a sponsor of the WPCA Pro Tour, as well as the Calgary Stampede’s Rangeland Derby, which is the official name of the chuckwagon event.
And because most of the anticipated 1.3 million attendees don’t get a chance to race chuckwagons in real life, Momentum and Flight School created the GMC Rangeland Derby VR experience. In it, Calgary Stampede visitors will be able to race around a CGI replica of the legendary track, which is also known as the Half Mile of Hell, but instead of horses, they’ll be “harnessing the power of a GMC Sierra 2500 pickup” and Oculus Rift.
Rangeland Derby VR allows up to four players to compete in real time. A live host will be on site to call the races, which Momentum said will be amplified by in-game host and track announcer Les McIntyre. McIntyre will also provide in-game instructions and help users get acquainted with their truckwagons.
Rangeland Derby VR not only allows attendees to ride a chuckwagon, it “puts them in the race and provides a great way to integrate the GMC product”, a Momentum rep said. And, as the first of its kind for both GMC and the Calgary Stampede, the experience will not only transport consumers into the Rangeland Derby, but also the energy surrounding it.
“The idea came from our experience onsite last year and the need to create an all-new experience for Stampede goers,” the Momentum rep added.
“The Calgary Stampede is the greatest outdoor show on Earth and we wanted to create something that made it even better for consumers,” said Laura Denham, vice president of production at Momentum, in a statement.
“North American teams in Canada and the US have been working to bring this GMC program to life for months,” added Jason Alan Snyder, global chief technology officer at Momentum, in the release. “Truckwagon strikes the perfect balance of realism and fantasy with a superb technical, graphical and audio execution. It’s an exciting, immersive experience that was formulated to bring fans as close as possible to the deepest and most authentic aspects of GMC and their sponsorship of the Calgary Stampede."
Momentum is AOR for GMC experiential.
In 2016, the GMC Rangeland Derby included 36 drivers, as well as 216 horses and C$1.15m in prize money (about $890,000).