The World Lost the Great Lane Frost in Cheyenne 34 Years Ago This Week

By Shawn Patrick on July 27, 2023

I have written thousands of articles over the years, but it’s always this one that brings the most tears to my eyes. There is just something about this story that touches my heart like not many things can. Did I know Lane Frost? I did not, as a matter of fact I was only 3 years old when he died, but through stories, movies, and history, Lane lives on 34 years after that tragedy up in old Cheyenne.

It’s called the “Daddy of ‘Em All” for a reason, Cheyenne Frontier Days is the rodeo all the cowboys want to win, the biggest, the best, the most prestigious. Lane Frost, a former world champion bull rider, was having a bad year, at the moment he was not even in the top 15 in the world rankings and on the verge of missing the National Finals for the chance at another title. It was July 30th 1989, Lane was sitting in 2nd place overall with one more bull to ride for a chance at winning the biggest rodeo around and boosting him up into the top 15 in the world rankings. Lane’s personal life was on the rise too. Lane and wife Kellie were growing stronger and happier in their marriage. They were working through the loneliness and their conflicts of being apart, because Lane traveled so much to compete in rodeos and pursue the World Championship. The first part of 1988 was a bad time for them, but both had learned to do some compromising and adjusting, and the last 10 months were the best of their marriage. They were actually just days away from being approved for a loan to build a ranch run a bull riding school, start raising bulls, and start a family. Right after Cheyenne, Lane was planning on joining Kellie in Oklahoma to be the stunt bull rider for the star of the movie “Lonesome Dove”. Lane and his best friends and traveling partners, Tuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert had recently finished doing some advertising photos for a major western clothing chain, and Lane had even just begun marketing his own bull riding spurs. At 3:30 Cheyenne time, Lane climbed the fence to chute #7 and hopped on the back of the bull known as “Takin’ Care Of Business.” The sky was still dark and overcast from the storms of the last couple days which had dumped a lot of rain on the arena causing ankle deep mud, making it tough for the riders and bullfighters to get around. Lane nodded his head, gave his famous phrase, “OK boys! OK boys!” and the huge gate swung open into an arena full of mud and muck. 8 seconds later Lane remained on the back of the bull completing the ride and giving himself a chance at the title.

In hindsight, Lane would receive an 85 score and ended up in 3rd place for the rodeo, but he would never know. After 8 seconds Lane let go of his rope and dismounted the bull in his normal, yet nontraditional way. The bull didn’t cooperate today though. “Takin’ Care of Business” quickly pivoted, and changed directions to the left, and was at Lane’s back. Lane tried to stand, but the bull lunged and knocked him over, instincts took over and Lane tried to make himself as small as possible, but it was too late as the bull, still agitated and moving forward, never stopping, turned and dipped his head, and pushed his right horn into Lane’s left side. The horn did not break skin, but it hit Lane hard enough to slide him forward on the muddy ground. Lane quickly stood, holding his left arm stiffly at his side, he began to head back to the gates. He motioned with his right arm for help. Before anyone could reach him, he collapsed on the ground. It is said that Lane’s heart stopped beating then, although they tried to revive him at the arena, and at the hospital. It is assumed that broken ribs severed a main artery, but no autopsy was done. At 3:59 doctors at Memorial Hospital pronounced Lane Frost dead.

Tuff Hedeman, Lane’s best friend and traveling partner, accompanied Lane to the hospital. He had a hard time believing what happened because the wreck didn’t look bad, he had seen Lane be in a lot worse situations and get up and walk away. Actually, Lane’s teeth were still wired from a worse-looking wreck a month earlier in Fort Worth. Just like a good best friend would, it was Tuff who had to make the call to Lane’s Mom and Dad back in Oklahoma, Tuff who called Lane’s wife Kellie, who for the very first time, did not go to Cheyenne Frontier Days, Tuff who cleaned the mud off Lane’s chaps and boots, and it was Tuff, who, for the last time, along with Cody Lambert, traveled with Lane back home to Oklahoma the next morning, in a plane chartered by the Cheyenne Frontier Days committee. The dark sky’s and rain from Cheyenne seemed to follow Lane to Oklahoma. 3500 people stood in the pouring rain to pay their respects to Lane on August 2nd in Atoka, Oklahoma. Lane was laid to rest at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, OK., near his good friend Freckles Brown.

Later that year at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas Tuff Hedeman went on to win the world championship and on the final day rode an extra 8 seconds for Lane in front of Kellie and Lanes parents. In August of 1990, Lane was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, becoming the youngest cowboy ever inducted.

In 1994 the movie¬†8 Seconds¬†was released, which was supposed to tell Lane’s story. However, Hollywood decided to add some details, and leave other details out. The 2 main disputes between the movie and Lane’s real life were, first, Lane was a Christian. In the movie, this was not mentioned, to the dismay of his parents and Kellie. The producers did not want God brought into the movie. Second, Clyde Frost, Lane’s Dad, is not like the father in the movie. According to one of Lane’s friends, “if there was anyone proud of Lane, it was Clyde. Lane didn’t have to prove himself to Clyde, he had his approval from the start.” This also upset Luke Perry pretty bad. Perry said in an interview “I did (a movie) called “8 Seconds” that haunts me to this day. The portrayal of my character’s father in that film, and it was a true life story, it portrayed him as being much harsher in his relationship with his son than ever he truly was. And somehow through all of the small day-to-day battles that one has on a movie set with the creative powers that be on some level, that got by me. And I feel that in that film we misrepresented to the world the depth of the emotion and the love and compassion of a man named Clyde Frost.”

Today Lanes legacy lives on through his friends, parents, and numerous memorials. From a statue in Cheyenne to the many scholarships in his name Lane will never be forgotten. Lane’s parent’s also continue to attend rodeos and speak about Lane, the importance of safety, faith, and family. Tuff won three world title’s and the continues to be in the bull riding field. He also has a son named after Lane. Cody Lambert invented the vest that all bull riders are now required to wear soon after Lane’s death.

God bless and never forget “the Champion” Lane Frost.

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