KNOXVILLE – Professional Bull Riders’ Pendleton Whisky Velocity Tour will make a stop in Knoxville on Saturday. The event will be held at Thompson-Boling Arena and will begin at 7 p.m.
Each rider will have one chance at an eight-second ride in the first round. The top 10 riders from round one will then go on to compete in the championship round, where they will each get one more chance to achieve the title of event champion.
The night’s victor will earn 170 world points and his portion of the $20,000 at stake. The winner will also be invited to compete with the elite PBR Unleash the Beast.
Among the riders competing Saturday night is veteran rider, Sean Willingham. Willingham has ridden bulls since age 15 and has competed professionally for 23 years.
One of his favorite memories from his years competing in the sport is the tour’s stop in Hawaii in 2006.
“Hawaii was an outstanding event,” Willingham said. “We took our whole show – we loaded bulls from the U.S. and put ‘em on big ships and shipped ‘em over there and put on our own big event.”
Willingham has plans to retire at the end of the 2020 tour. He originally planned to retire at the end of the previous season but suffered injuries, causing him to continue for one last opportunity to claim his 13th career PBR World Finals qualification.
The Knoxville stop on this tour will be his first time back on a bull since fracturing his leg last March.
“I wanted to finish out on a good note, not on a bad note,” Willingham said. “So that’s what gave me the drive to come back to go one more year and ride these bulls for a whole year and finish out in Las Vegas and then retire on a good note.”
During his retirement, Willingham will continue doing agent work. He will also continue working with a company in Tennessee, whose focus is keeping bulls in the best health possible. Among these other plans, Willingham will also be a stay-at-home dad, watching his kids follow their future dreams.
Willingham looks forward to competing in Knoxville this weekend.