OKLAHOMA CITY —
It’s been more than 24 years since Lane Frost, a 1982 Atoka High School graduate, died doing what he loved, suffering a fatal injury during the final round of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.
Who he was and the legend he has left remains powerfully strong in rodeo, and Cord McCoy shares that lore with viewers in the Monday episode of “The Ride with Cord McCoy.”
“That’s been my favorite show we’ve done,” McCoy said about the 30-minute program, which airs at noon and 10 p.m. Central Time on Mondays on RFD-TV. “I think this one takes our whole show to the next level. We’re getting to talk to people about the details that they haven’t talked about in over 20 years.
“There were at least five of us that cried while we were taping it. I bawled like a baby. It was so touching for me; I could hardly do the interview at the grave site.”
That’s just part of the impact Frost’s legacy continues to have on fans. It was the foundation that led to the 1994 movie “8 Seconds,” which chronicled the life and death of the 1987 bull-riding world champion.
“We taped the show in backwards order. I’d talked to Cody (Lambert) and Clyde and Elsie (Frost), then that evening while we were wrapping the show, I walked down and saw the grave for the first time,” said McCoy, a bull rider who has qualified for the PBR World Finals six times and earned a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2005. “The first thing I did was walk up to the back of the grave, and on the back of it, it said, ‘Lane, I love you, Kellie.’
“I broke down right there.”
It’s a touching reminder of Frost, and it’s a story McCoy has wanted to tell.
“You definitely get an idea of Lane Frost from the movie,” he said as he opened the episode. “To be able to go back to Clyde and Elsie’s place and to talk about the true Lane Frost is going to be pretty interesting … to be at the place where Lane grew up, to be where Lane practiced and what he was really like.”
The show begins with a bull riding and bullfighting school that takes place annually at the arena Lane Frost built on the family’s place near Lane, in Atoka County, with money he’d earned at the 1985 NFR. Viewers get to see world champion bull rider Mike Lee work with newcomers to the sport, while Frank Newsome teaches up-and-coming bull fighters the tricks of that trade.
The meat of the story, though, is on Frost, and it leaves viewers wanting to know even more about the man.
“God used Lane,” Clyde Frost said of his son. “He made him who he was. Everybody liked him, and they’re still using him. Little kids … we hear from them all the time.”
A young Lane was especially taken with his dad’s dear friend, Freckles Brown, who won the bull riding world championship in 1962 at the age of 41. In fact, the two are buried near one another in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Hugo.
Brown died in 1987, just two years before Lane Frost.
“Freckles died in March of that year, and Lane won the world in December,” Elsie Frost said. “But Freckles was really special to him. When we buried Freckles down there, Lane commented on what a pretty cemetery that was.”
The story of the two bull riding champions is more powerful than that. They had a special bond.
“Freckles had that cancer, and he was down at Houston” for treatment, Clyde Frost said. “Lane was up at (the) Fort Worth (rodeo), and he flew down to Houston and stayed in the room with Freckles that night and let (Brown’s wife) Edith go. He told me the next time I seen him, ‘I told Freckles I was going to win the world for him.’
“He did, but Freckles wasn’t there.”
Lambert, who traveled the rodeo trail with Lane Frost, told of that fateful ride on July 30, 1989, and his words trailed into tears as he repeated the last words his friend ever spoke to him.
“No matter how tough you think you are, it’s a touching story,” McCoy said. “You see the effects he made on people’s lives then and still today.”
That’s the most telling aspect of the Lane Frost story, and it’s one that needs to be retold again. It’s why McCoy wanted this episode to be such a showcase for viewers of “The Ride.”
“It’s an honor that they want to come and be where Lane was,” Elsie Frost said. “That’s so amazing. Lane’s been gone almost 24 years now, and these kids weren’t even born then. It’s still amazing to me that they still know who he is and that they still look up to him. But it’s neat that they do.”
With a break in his voice as he looked down upon the gravestone that symbolizes the life and death of one of rodeo’s greatest champions, McCoy provided his thoughts on why Lane Frost’s legacy continues to touch so many people today.
“You wonder how many millions of people in the last 25 years have come and paid respects,” he said. “(He’s) definitely a legend … still living on.”