According to Emmett Hahn, co-founder of the Chili Bowl Nationals, next year’s nationals will extend to encompass six days of thrilling high-speed action.
Accelerating ever since its 1987 inception, the Chili Bowl Nationals has grown from a mere two days with 52 entries to five days of racing with more than 350 entries. This year’s incarnation ran Jan 9-13. Next year, the event will take place Jan 14-19 at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla.
The expansion to six days will allow a division of qualifying sessions, elevating fan experience and enjoyment throughout the week.
“Everybody wants to come here and watch some good races then go out and eat after it’s over or party, and when we have this many cars on our qualifying nights, it’s too late for them to go eat and party,” Hahn said. “This is all about having fun. Instead of having 90 cars trying to qualify, we’ll have 60-65. That’s four hot lap sessions with four [fewer] heat races. We can cut the racing down and have better race conditions and have the races over by 10:15.”
Hahn and co-founder Lanny Edwards have organized the Chili Bowl Nationals since the beginning. The 55-lap races at the Tulsa Expo Raceway regularly draw 15,000 or so passionate spectators, so clearly they’ve been doing something very right! This latest change will, hopefully, continue in that successful vein. The focus on fun rather than cramming the action into as short a period of time as possible seems like a well-planned enhancement to what is already an exceptional event.