The Baddest of Them All

This weekend in downtown Clovis they are celebrating the 96th Annual Clovis Rodeo. Rising Country star Jake Owen performed Friday night and the cowboys of the California rodeo circuit competed on Saturday and Sunday. There was a parade in downtown Clovis and the event is well attended. I have to admit that I have never actually attended the rodeo and I think it is mostly because of the huge crowds.

The Clovis Rodeo makes me reflect and think back on the legendary Red Rock. Almost twenty years ago my little brother gave me the nickname Red Rock at a powerlifting meet in Eugene Oregon. Many people looked twice at my brother and wondered about the name. My brother was quick to point out that it meant I was the baddest one of them all. Red Rock was a rodeo bull and he was without a doubt the baddest bull in the pen.

In 1987 Red Rock was retired from the rodeo circuit having never been ridden. A total of 309 professional cowboys climbed aboard Red rock and not one rode him for eight seconds. Because I was born and raised in Crescent City and Red Rock was born in Sisters Oregon we were from the same area. Red Rock went to the local rodeo circuit at age two and bucked riders off for six years without any trouble. At the age of eight Red Rock was sold to a stock contractor in Red Bluff and joined the professional circuit. In four years on the professional circuit he bucked off all 309 who tried to ride him before he was retired at age 12.

Red Rock was all business at the rodeo and bucked riders off with amazing efficiency. After the rider was off his back Red Rock made a lap around the arena to the applause of the people prior to leaving.

Red Rock will be forever linked to one of the greatest cowboys of all time Lane Frost. Lane was a great bull rider and the movie Eight Seconds is about the life of Lane Frost. A Bakersfield band right down the road from where I live has a song called Red Rock about Lane Frost. I heard the song performed at the Del Norte County Fair in Crescent City by the Smokin’ Armadillo’s. I would later meet a couple of the guys in the band working at their day jobs in Bakersfield.

When you make the drive north on Interstate 5 as you are travelling by Red Bluff there is an old sculpture out close to the road of an old bull. That sculpture is a tribute to Red Rock. Many people travel by the bull every day but very really know the story.

I have to give a little more information about the relationship between Lane and Red Rock. Red Rock was at the National Finals Rodeo from 1984 through 1987 and bucked off every rider. In 1985 Red Rock bucked off Lane Frost. In 1986, Lane had ridden the first nine bulls of the NFR and had a chance to be the first cowboy to ride all ten bulls at the NFR. Unfortunately, Lane drew Red Rock in the tenth and final round and was bucked off. Lane would have been World Champion had he made the ride. In 1987, Lane was named the World Champion rider and Red Rock was the World Champion bull. Red Rock was retired from competition after the 1987 National Final Rodeo.

A special match was promoted as the “The Challenge of the Champions”, it would be a seven event match-up between Lane Frost, who was 24 years old and weighed in at 145 pounds, and Red Rock, who was 12 years old and weighed in at 1750 pounds. The match was scheduled to be held during the spring and summer of 1988.

Match number one was held in Red Bluff on April 17, 1988 and Lane stayed aboard for only two seconds and Red Rock made his customary victory lap to the cheers of his hometown crowd. The very next weekend on April 24, 1988 the event was the Clovis Rodeo and event number two was much the same as number one and the score 2-0 in favor of Red Rock and it was not even close.

There was a month break before the next matchup on May 20, 1988 in Redding, California. Lane was scared and had spent the entire month studying film and figuring out how to ride the unridable bull. Lane figured out that he needed to sit far to the right and get ready for the spin. I was there that day and I saw people cry after Lane became the first man to stay on the back of Red Rock for eight seconds.

Match number four was in Livermore, California and was not part of the original tour but was an added event and took place June 11, 1988. Lane used the same technique as he did in Redding and the ride was every bit as smooth and suddenly the score was tied 2-2. The very next night they were scheduled in Sisters, Oregon where Red Rock was born. They drove ten hours through the night to make the show in Sisters. Red Rock really bucked hard in Sisters but Lane stayed on his back. Red Rock was no longer making his victory lap around the arena but was standing and staring at Lane after the ride. Lane led the series 3-2 and it looked like Lane had figured out the great bull.

Match number six was scheduled for July 4, 1988 in St. Paul, Oregon. Everyone expected Lane to ride the bull for the fourth consecutive time. This time Red Rock was having no part of Lane staying on for eight seconds. Red Rock came out hard and spun the opposite way for the first time ever and Lane had no chance from the offset position. The old bull had learned a new trick. Red Rock ran around the arena in the victory lap and instead of exiting as he had always done went to the center of the arena and bowed his head much like Lane had done in his victories.

The seventh and final match was held in Spanish Fork, Utah on July 25. The ground was hard and Lane was tired from the rodeo circuit and Red Rock was calm and relaxed before the ride. Red Rock bucked well and Lane rode the bull that night with the timers watch reading 9.6 seconds when Lane hit the ground. Lane had won the challenge 4-3. Red Rock retired and no cowboy ever again climbed on the back of the great bull. Children visiting him in Red Bluff were able to sit on the back of the gentle bull for pictures. He almost seemed to know that bucking cowboys off was only a sport.

On Sunday July 30, 1989 in Cheyenne, Wyoming Lane Frost rode his very last bull. Lane made the eight seconds aboard a bull named, Takin’ Care of Business, and when he dismounted the bull gored Lane and he died almost immediately from his injuries. Lane will forever be remembered as a great bull rider. The great bull Red Rock died on June 8, 1994 on the Growney Ranch in Red Bluff, California. He was 18.

The Clovis Rodeo was part of the great challenge between Frost and Red Rock and will always hold memories for me.

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13 Responses to “The Baddest of Them All”

  1. Charles Kutz Says:

    Red Rock’s story in and of it’s self, would make a great movie.
    Maybe the drink “Red Bull” would be a good sponsor to get something like this moving.

    We could only dream.

    P.S. Good article

  2. colton westen Says:

    Lane Frost was the best

  3. Martin Nice Says:

    There’s a song on iTunes dedicated to Red Rock (Called “Red Rock”). It’s by an artist called “Lokumu”.

  4. carrie Says:


  5. mike Says:

    We should all thank Lane for being an all American icon who died doing what he loved. We need more Americans like him.

  6. Marty Pinner Says:

    Heros live forever. Legends never die….God blessed them both.

  7. Red Rock Says:

    I put this on Red Rock’s Facebook page

  8. makayla juergens Says:

    gone but never forgotten. RIP Lane Frost ❤ <3<3

  9. Ron collins Says:

    I remember it like it was yesterday, Ron collins Sisters rodeo director.

  10. Says:

    I’m pretty sure Lane actually rode red rock 4 times!

  11. Says:

    Actually, Lane rode him 4 out of 7 times in a 7 match challenge. Then Red Rock was retired!

  12. Says:

    Lane rode Red Rock 4 out of 7 times in a 7 match challenge!

  13. Says:

    Actually Lane rode Red Rock 4 times in a 7 match challenge!

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