Ray Kozak is trying to lasso a Guinness world record.
The Warren County cowboy successfully completed a feat he believes will put him back in the record book in the category of largest lasso. Kozak has twirled a lasso that was 115 feet, 1 inch in length at his farm off Old Shelbyville Road.
If accepted by Guinness officials, it will beat the current world record of 107 feet held by a Chicago resident.
“People ask me how I do it and there’s really no trick to it. It just takes practice,” said Kozak, 55. “This is what I do when I want to chill. Some people shoot baskets. I do trick roping when I want to relax.”
Kozak has held the largest lasso world record twice before. He first got his name in the record book in 1993 with a lasso of 78 feet. After that record was broken, Kozak reclaimed the title in 2004 with a lasso of 86 feet.
He had videos taken from three different angles of his world record attempt. He is sending those videos and other information to Guinness and says the verification process usually takes around three months.
Kozak is already the current Guinness record holder in the category of Texas skip. That’s when you run and jump through your lasso as you’re moving. Kozak ran 100 meters in 17.61 seconds while jumping through his lasso 23 times.
Kozak’s roping skills date all the way back to his childhood when he worked on his family’s 1,000-acre cattle farm in Missouri.
“My dad refused to buy a chute or any type of cattle equipment,” said Kozak. “I think he just wanted to keep us worn out so we wouldn’t go to town and get into trouble. We had to do everything the hard way.”
When young Ray wasn’t working on his family farm, he spent time honing his skills in his free time.
“I had a neighbor who had an indoor arena and that’s where I spent all of my time,” said Kozak. “I’d ride my horse over there and stay there all night, sometimes till like 1 a.m. One night I rode my horse home and it was 20 degrees below zero.”
Kozak remains a cattle farmer today and says roping is something he does on a regular basis. He had to rope several calves on Monday and says it remains an integral part of his job.
Ray and his wife Jane have lived in Warren County since 1998. He’s done trick roping exhibitions during Viola Valley Homecoming and Farm Bureau Day at the Warren County Fair.
He travels all around the region performing his roping tricks at rodeos during breaks in the competition. In some of the bigger arenas, he performs in front of 4,000 fans.
“The two tricks I’ve been in the record book for are the biggest crowd pleasers,” said Kozak. “I’ll do the big loop on horseback and then I’ll do the running Texas skip across the arena to end the show. Both of those will always get ’em.”
Kozak spent about six months practicing for his 115-foot lasso and experimented with all different types of rope to find the right fit. While twirling such a lasso may seem like it would take a toll on your arms and shoulders, Kozak said he does the brunt of the work with his legs and it’s an exhausting cardiovascular workout.