Forget NASCAR. A group of sports enthusiasts in the Centennial State are working to get donkey racing designated the official sport of Colorado.

Lobbying efforts are being led by the Western Pack Burro Racing Association, which goes by the motto: "Celebrating 62 years of Hauling Ass."

The mainstream sports bloggers have ignored this brewing political fight until the Wall Street Journal reported the groups campaign for official recognition.

Efforts includes petitions, emails to lawmakers, taking their donkeys all over Colorado to schools, parades and, believe it or not, nursing homes to gain support. These free spirits have reached across party lines picking up a few key endorsements from politicians.

State Rep. Tom Massey said he'll join the fight because the sport brings limited tourist dollars to rural communities.

Proud Coloradans fighting the good fight say donkey racing is part of their heritage, the only sport indigenous to Colorado.

Legend has it that man-and-donkey racing teams first sprang up during the 19th-century Gold Rush. When a prospector struck a vein, he'd load up his burro and high-tail it to town to register his claim before his rivals got there. To commemorate that tradition, the historic mining town of Leadville, high in the Rockies, began holding an annual burro race in 1949; other communities soon followed.

The Journal notes that the faithful athletes aren't allowed to ride their burro on the course. Instead they must cover the gigantic courses that reach altitudes of up to 13,000 feet and stretch from five miles to 29 miles on their own two feet while holding onto a 15-foot leash and prodding the donkey to keep pace.

Burro races almost never attract more than 40 competitors. Think of them as the Florida Marlins of Jackass Racing.

Many "athletes" buy their burros from Uncle Sam. The federal government holds regular auctions to thin wild donkey herds.

Bill Lee, Western Pack Racing Association president, is hoping the campaign will add more young donkey lovers. Many of the top runners are long in the tooth, with retirement getting close.

"We're trying to keep this from being a dying sport," says Mr. Lee, who is 62. "We're trying to get young people addicted to it."

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

Story continues below