In 1932, a bay colt was foaled near Silverton, Texas. By Miller Boy and out of a Lock’s Rondo-bred mare named The Comer Mare, the fleet bay colt became a winner at match races, winning from 220 yards to three-eighths of a mile and earning himself the name “Speedy.” Nicknamed “Speedy,” Driftwood and his foals were known for their easygoing dispositions and their abilities in the rodeo arena. Legend has it the horse even beat the famous racehorse Clabber when the two were owned by Buck Nichols.
At age 9, Speedy was sold to Asbury Schell of Tempe, Arizona, and became a full-time roping horse. His match-race experience made him a bullet out of the box. At one rodeo in Payson, Arizona, the well-balanced bay earned folding money in tie-down roping, team tying, steer roping and steer wrestling – and then won a stock saddle race down the length of the rodeo arena for good measure.
Speedy stood up to the pressure of lots of runs, long hauls and different ropers using him until 1942, when Channing and Katy Peake of Lompoc, California, entered his life. The Peakes had bought a band of Waggoner and RO ranch mares in 1940 and were looking for a stallion to sire rope horses. It was a unique niche, and the Peakes had certain qualifications their chosen stallion had to fit. First, he had to be a rope horse himself. Second, he had to be attractive.
They had been looking for more than a year when they first saw Speedy at a rodeo in Hayward, California. He met their qualifications to a T, but Schell was still earning money on him and was reluctant to sell. The Peakes talked Schell into breeding Speedy to seven of their mares, but he then returned to the rodeo circuit.
“If you ever want to sell him, let us have first chance,” Channing Peake told Schell.
In March 1943, World War II changed the course of American Quarter Horse history when gas rationing cut the rodeo season short. A $1,500 price tag for a horse might seem high for the times, but Speedy had earned more than that for Schell at one rodeo. Schell decided Speedy would have a good home with the Peakes and sold him for $1,500.
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Photo: Driftwood has become a legend in the American Quarter Horse industry. Journal photo.