“It is pretty special,” Larry Jones says of the time he spends with his son-inlaw Cale Smiley competing at chainsaw racing competitions. “We just have fun and try to win.”
Recently, Larry claimed the World Championship Woodchopper title in Webster Springs, West Virginia in the 5 cubic inch look-stock chainsaw division while Cale took second.
“I knew our saws were plenty capable and going down there I thought how nice it would be if Cale won this and I got second,” said Larry. As it turns out, Larry won the competition among competitors from across the nation, Australia and Canada.
Larry and Cale both use a Solo, a German manufactured chainsaw, and then tweak it so it becomes more efficient and faster. Under the cover of their chainsaws, there is a modified cylinder and a bigger carburetor while the chain is milled down and narrowed to take less power as it sears through the log. The recoil handle is also larger to be quickly pulled.
“You can do anything you want inside, but it has to ‘look-stock’ on the outside,” says Larry whose chainsaw is technically a racing machine.
“You’ve got to have a good chainsaw when you are 76 years old,” he finishes modestly.
Larry explains of the competition, “You set your saw on the ground and put your hands on the log. When they yell go, the time starts and you pick up your chainsaw, and saw through a 12 inch long piece of log twice.”
Both Larry and Cale completed the task in less than six seconds. Larry who has spent over 60 years logging in the area around Toponas and in Kremmling, and will log again with his brother Darold again this summer, is definitely no stranger to chainsaws. Larry cuts and skids while Darold hauls, and Larry says they keep doing it because they love it.
Cale, in his own right, repairs chainsaws and is a trained mechanic. He is currently fleet manager at Peak Materials.
But perhaps, their most competitive edge comes from their time spent snowmobiling.
Cale is an avid snowmobiler, and Jones spent two different winters working for Arctic Cat helping develop snowmobiles in Minnesota. Also Larry and his brother Darold often spent winters racing snowmobiles. Jones gives a nod to Erik Woog, the owner of Alpine Motor Sports, for introducing the idea of nitrous oxide, a pressurized oxygen, to be used in their fuel.
Both Larry and Cale use a mixture of gas and nitrous oxide in their chainsaws which is relatively new in competitions. In West Virginia, competitors use a mixture of alcohol and nitro methane, and last year, both Larry and Cale were not allowed to compete at the World Championships in West Virginia because of their use of nitrous oxide.
This year they were invited back, and Cale encouraged his father-in-law to return to the competition.
“Larry and I had been working for almost seven years to create the saws that we are currently running. The reason we started working on the project was because Larry had gone to Sheridan, Arkansas to compete. Their saws were quite a bit faster than what we were running at the time. So we worked out how to build a saw that we could compete with in both the southwest and southeast,” says Cale, “We had spent a lot of time and energy to build the saws.” “Competing gives us an opportunity to bond as a family,” Larry emphasizes of the strong ties he has with his son-in-law. Larry usually travels to competitions with his wife Millie in their motor home while Cale often flies.
“This way we can haul the chainsaws and he doesn’t have to miss so much work.” This also allows Millie and Larry to combine their love of the Grand Old Opry with the competitions.
“We go to Nashville every time we can.” Sometimes the circuit in the south for the logger’s rodeos allows them to combine both loves when they head to Sheridan, Arkansas and Winfield, Louisiana and Webster Springs, West Virginia. A favorite is at Encampment, Wyoming where the family just spent Father’s Day at a logger’s rodeo. “My kids always enjoyed the parade and now my grandkids do,” says Larry of their family tradition.