Everything That You Need to Know About The Chili Bowl
A Complete Preview For the 2008 Version of a Winter Classic
As has become tradition over the past couple of decades, the racing world's attention shifts squarely upon Tulsa, OK, next week as the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals takes place January 8-12 atop the ¼-mile Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center.
From humble beginnings in 1987 that attracted just over 50 cars and a slim crowd, the Chili Bowl Nationals has evolved into a blockbuster event with jam-packed grandstands each night and an indoor pit area bursting at the seams with top guns from all variety of racing disciplines.
And, like the fans, the racers come in increasingly vast numbers with each passing year it seems, as this year's entry list has reached 282 entries from 27 states as well as Canada and Australia. Last year's edition of the Chili Bowl featured a record number of 267 competitors, a record that will likely fall by the way side next week.
Few could have imagined way back in 1987 that the Chili Bowl would develop into the mega-event that it has become, with NASCAR stars Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne racing alongside all variety of high-speed chauffeurs, some handsomely paid and some just getting by from one race to the next.
From the nation's top open wheelers in the Sprint Car and Midget ranks to some Late Model and DIRT Modified aces such as 2006 Chili Bowl winner Tim McCreadie and even straight-liners like Gary Scelzi and Cruz Pedregon, you have a true cross section of the American auto racing scene represented inside the building formerly known as the Tulsa Expo Center.
True, the likes of Stewart, Kahne, Yeley, Leffler and others frequented the Chili Bowl before making the successful leap to the purported "big-time". But they've continued to come back to Tulsa each January, with Tony Stewart's two Chili Bowl triumphs coming in 2002 and 2007, well after his IRL championship in 1997 and subsequent shift to NASCAR.
You may ask yourself, why?
Stewart, familiarly known as "Smoke Johnson" around Tulsa, perhaps put it best a couple of years ago. “Where are you going to go in the country where you have 250 of the best all in one place for four days running for one prize? You win this race you’ve got bragging rights for a year. I don’t care what you do for the rest of the season, you could drop out of every race for the rest of the year, but you still got bragging rights that you won the Chili Bowl.”
Action from the 2007 Chili Bowl.
Of course, that was three years ago, when there were "only" 250 entries and "only" four nights of racing. A car count that swelled from 167 to 249 in the span from 2002 to 2005 prompted the addition of a Tuesday night Pre-Qualifying event last year, when 267 took part.
The reasons are countless why thousands upon thousands spend much of the year planning the annual trek to Tulsa. A key reason is the atmosphere, the "feel" of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. Bottom line, it's fun. That keeps Tony Stewart coming back; that keeps Dave Darland coming back; that keeps Mark Bush coming back; that keeps Johnny Murdock coming back. That keeps the fans coming back.
The Chili Bowl got that "feel" in the early days. And while the event has grown in leaps and
Past Winners: Tony Stewart (2007 and 2002), Sammy Swindell (1998, 1996, 1992 and 1989), Cory Kruseman (2004 and 2000), Dan Boorse (2003 and 1999), Tim McCreadie (2006), Tracy Hines (2005), Jay Drake (2001), Billy Boat (1997), Donnie Beechler (1995), Andy Hillenburg (1994), Dave Blaney (1993), Lealand McSpadden (1991), Jon Heydenreich (1990), Scott Hatton (1988), Rich Vogler (1987).
Current Entries: 282 entries from 27 different states as well as Canada and Australia, topping last year's record count of 267 competitors.
Past winners already entered include Tony Stewart, Sammy Swindell, Cory Kruseman, Tim McCreadie, Tracy Hines and Johnny Heydenreich.
Among the latest entries is Springfield, Nebraska's Jack Dover aboard the Anderson Motorsports No. 53. Jack joins his sister Trish Dover, driver of the Pierovich No. 6p, in this year's Chili Bowl field. They are believed to be just the second brother-sister duo to compete in the Chili Bowl, following Oklahoma's Zach and Stephanie Chappell in 2002.
Currently, there are 67 Chili Bowl rookies on the entry list.
At least 30 series or track champions over the course of the 2007 season have entered the Chili Bowl Nationals, including:
Eleven midget champions from 2007 that have entered the Chili Bowl include Jerry Coons, Jr. (USAC and National Midget Driver of the Year), David Gough (UMARA), 16-year-old Justin Grant (BCRA), Nathan High (AMRA), Brad Kuhn (BMARA), Brad Loyet (POWRi), Andy Martin (ARDC), Doug McCune (SSMA), Johnny Rodriguez (USAC Western States), Chris Sheil (RMMRA) and Gary Taylor (SMRS).
Eight winged Sprint Car champs are ready for the Chili Bowl, including Lee Grosz (ASCS Northern Plains), Mike Goodman (OCRS), Garry Lee Maier (NCRA), Joey Montgomery (St. Francois County Raceway), Shane Stewart (All-Star Speedweek and NSCS Speedweek), Glenn Styres (SOS), George White (Cowtown Speedway) and Gary Wright (ASCS National and National Driver of the Year).
Six wingless Sprint Car champs are entered, including 19-year-old Jeff Bland, Jr. (Bloomington Speedway and National Rookie of the Year), Shane Cottle (Kokomo Speedway), Jesse Hockett (Sprint Bandits TNT), Levi Jones (USAC), Ryan Kaplan (USAC Western States) and Jon Stanbrough (KISS and National Non-Wing Driver of the Year).
Bud Kaeding won the USAC Silver Crown championship.
Other 2007 champions include Stewart Friesen (DIRT Modifieds at New York's Utica Rome Speedway), Brent Rees (Rocky Mountain Mini Sprint Association), Austin Mero (Ventura Raceway Junior Ford Focus Midgets) and Andrew Deal (non-wing Micros at Will Rogers Raceway).
Bass Pro Shops Kick Off Party: Bass Pro Shops in Broken Arrow, OK, will host a Chili Bowl Kick Off Party on Monday night, January 7, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Drivers from the Tony Stewart Motorsports team, including Tracy Hines, Levi Jones and Josh Richards, will be on hand to sign autographs. Fans can enter for a chance to ride in the Chili Bowl pace truck, the King of Bucks trailer will be present and accounted for and there will be all variety of games, prizes and giveaways. The flyer for the Bass Pro Shops Chili Bowl Kick Off Party is available at www.chilibowl.com/bpscbkop08.zip.
Trade Show: Always a popular attraction at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is the Trade Show, which is open to the public each day (Tuesday through Saturday) free of charge. All variety of racing products, apparel and more is available with well over 100 different vendors. The Trade Show covers approximately 20,000 square feet.
Preferred Parking: A limited number of Preferred Parking spaces are still available for all five
nights of the Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals by calling the ticket office at 918-838-3777.
Buffet: The cafeteria at the east end of the QuikTrip Center will offer an all-you-can-eat buffet
each day. The buffet is available from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday
and then 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets: Four-night tickets for Wednesday through Saturday of the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili
Bowl Nationals were depleted by the beginning of June. A limited number of reserved seats
for Tuesday night's Pre-Qualifying event are available for $21 per person and may be obtained
by calling 918-838-3777 or at the gate. Pit passes for all five nights are available at the gate
Pay-Per-View: Lucas Oil presents the Chili Bowl Nationals live on HBO Pay-Per-View for the first time on Saturday night, January 12. The live broadcast on Saturday, January 12 begins at 8:00 p.m. ET (5:00 p.m. PT), with an immediate pay-per-view replay and additional replays on Sunday. The HBO Pay-Per-View racing telecast has a suggested retail price $24.95 and will be available to more than 61 million pay-per-view homes in the United States and Canada and millions more worldwide. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming in the pay-per-view industry. Ordering information is available at http://www.hbo.com/.
Viewers are encouraged to contact their local cable operator or satellite provider to order the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Customers must have digital cable or satellite service to order. A subscription to HBO is not required.
Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals On the Web: All the action from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday along with Saturday's action prior to the Pay-per-View telecast will be webcast live at www.racinboys.com. Complete information, including entry lists, updates and official results is available at www.chilibowl.com.
Additional information regarding the Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at www.chilibowl.com or by calling 918-838-3777.
falling under the nation's microscope (well, the world's for that matter), the Chili Bowl still possesses that same, undeniable charm it obtained in the early years. It's the big event with the same comfortable, laid-back, grassroots feel to it that drew countless fans and racers for the first time. And more often than not, vows were made after the first visit to never miss another one.
No point chases to worry about, few worries at all to be sure. And, when all is said and done and the final checkered flag falls on Saturday night's feature, one talented (and lucky) driver leaves with that coveted Golden Driller trophy. And bragging rights for a year.
Additional Dodge Chili Bowl information:
What: 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals
Where: Tulsa Expo Raceway – ¼-mile clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center (formerly known as Tulsa Exposition Center) at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds
When: January 8-12, 2008
Tuesday – Bass Pro Shops Pre-Qualifying Night
Wednesday - Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Night
Thursday – Warren CAT Qualifying Night
Friday – O'Reilly Qualifying Night
Saturday – Bass Pro Shops Championship Saturday Feature Events