Carolyn and her late husband, Gary, founded KCBS in 1986 with 35 friends as a way of creating more contests, and thus more excuses to get together and grill. The organization, which operates as a nonprofit dedicated to "celebrating, preserving, and promoting barbecue as a sport, an art form, and a culinary technique," now has 14,000 members, has trained close to 20,000 judges, and oversees 400 competitions a year. Repeat winners decorate their camps with banners from corporate sponsors like Duraflame and Weber, and circuit legends—like Paul Kirk, winner of seven world championships, and Myron Mixon, who has taken home 1,700 trophies—have become bona fide celebrities, with cookbooks and television shows. And the purses are growing: Last year, KCBS-sanctioned contests doled out $2.5 million, and Sam's Club, an official sponsor, recently announced an event with a game-changing total of $400,000 in prizes. "It's gone big-time," Wells says. "I don't want to say NASCAR status yet, but we're on this trajectory of critical mass and big money."