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PRCA For The Record: Las Vegas Days (Helldorado)

by Matt Naber | May 10, 2019

PRCA Media Coordinator

It’s been a bumpy ride on the highway to Las Vegas Days. Originally known as Helldorado Days, a decade-long hiatus has left many arena records intact for more than 35 years. John Quintana’s 1974 Helldorado bull riding record of 96 points is holding on strong 45 years later and remains one of the highest-scored rides in PRCA history.

Before Las Vegas became the year-round party it’s known as today, plenty of action was brewing in 1934 with the Hoover Dam under construction. With thousands flocking to see the unprecedented construction project, Arizona carnival barker Clyde Zerby saw an opportunity to cash in on the clientele while giving a nod to the area’s frontier roots.

The first Helldorado was a “rowdy affair,” featuring a provocative dance show and “other attractions that would let Dam workers blow-off steam,” according to the Las Vegas Elks, who went on to run the event. 

Construction of the dam and the legalization of gambling turned Las Vegas into a booming location – and the city wanted to keep the party going. The local Elks Lodge decided an annual production of the Helldorado Days festival could keep the community bustling and attract visitors seeking a taste of the Old West. 

Under the supervision of Elks Lodge No. 1468, and with support from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, Helldorado Days took off with a more family-friendly approach of parades, contests and a rodeo. 

By 1946, the notoriety of Helldorado Days had grown to the point that Roy Rogers filmed a movie in Las Vegas with the festival as the backdrop. The “Helldorado” movie is available on YouTube at 

Unfortunately, the festival disappeared for several years in the late 1990s, but it was resurrected in 2005 as part of Las Vegas’ centennial celebration. The rodeo returned as a PRCA-sanctioned event in 2009 through 2017 and is back again as a PRCA-sanctioned competition.

With all that in mind, here’s a look at Helldorado Days’ records that could be broken May 10-11. 

Fans can catch all the action at at 5 p.m. (PT) May 10-11. 

Rodeo records

Total payout: $257,877, 1984
All-around: $9,879, Mike Beers, 1983
Bareback riding: 88 points, Evan Jayne, 2015
Steer wrestling:
2.8 seconds, Rod Lyman, 1987 (7.5/2, Frank Shepperson, 1976; Butch Myers, 1987)
Team roping: 4.1 seconds, Thad Ward/Olin Pulham, 2015 (10.0/2, Brian Winn/Brian Roundy, 1993)
Saddle bronc riding: 87 points, Charley Gardner, 1996; Cort Scheer, 2011; Cody Wright, 2013; Wade Sundell, 2014
Tie-down roping: 7.4 seconds, Marty Yates, 2016; Trevor Brazile, 2017 (15.7/2, Blair Burk, 1998)
Barrel racing: 12.53, Jan Hansen, 1981
Bull riding: 96 points, John Quintana, 1974

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