One of the most recognizable mascots in the nation is the Masked Rider. Early Tech students started the tradition on Sept. 26, 1936. Called Ghost Riders because no one knew their identity, the rider wearing a scarlet satin cape and mounted on a palomino stallion, would appear mysteriously during home football games, circle the field at breakneck speed, and disappear for the remainder of the game. On Jan. 1, 1954, when Tech played in the Gator Bowl, a horse named Blackie was loanded to Joe Kirk Fulton, a student chosen to ride him. Wearing Levi’s, red shirt, red and blake cape and a black cowboy hat, Fulton led the team onto the field. The dramatic entry electrified the crowd as well as the team, which beat Auburn 35-13.
Prior to the 1971 season, the Southwest Conference passed a rule that prevented members of the conference from taking live animals to non-home games unless the host team had no objections. So Jim Gaspard, a member of Saddle Tramps, cre- ated Raider Red from a drawing by Lubbock cartoonist Dirk West as an alternative to the Masked Rider when the horse couldn’t travel with the football team.
The name-change from Matadors to Red Raiders came from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal sports writer Collier Parris, re- flecting on their red uniforms and a strong season. Covering a football game in 1932, he wrote: “The Red Raiders from Texas Tech, terror of the Southwest this year, swooped into the New Mexico University camp today.” The name caught on and by 1936, the Matadors had faded into history, replaced by the Red Raiders.
The class of 1936 gave the Victory Bells as their gift to Tech. They rang for the first time at the group’s graduation. They rang all night the next fall after Tech beat TCU, keeping Lub- bock residents awake. Thereafter, the ringing of the bells was limited to 30 minutes after men’s and women’s athletic victo- ries and special occassions, such as when Tech joined the Southwest Conference, and more recently, the Big 12. The Victory Bells - one large and one small- hang in the east tower of the Administration Building.