The indoor racing season is in full swing and will reach its apex next month with the 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, an orgy of midget racing at the Tulsa, Oklahoma River Spirit Expo Center. As racers prepare for this week-long event, held January 13-18, Chili Bowl organizers report 336 entries have been filed by racers hoping to take home the Golden Driller trophy.
There are six previous Chili Bowl victors in the field, including NASCAR star and three-time, defending winner Christopher Bell, going for his fourth victory in this tough race. Rico Abreu, Sammy Swindell, Damion Gardner, Tim McCreadie and John Heydenreich – all previous Chili Bowl winners – are on the entry list for this most prestigious race.
In addition to Bell, the NASCAR-racing contingent includes Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, J.J. Yeley, Chase Briscoe and Justin Allgaier, all of whom learned the racing ropes by racing midgets on dirt. Larson, who had a bad-looking flip earlier Christmas week but emerged with only bruises, is looking forward to continuing his winter season on the dirt.
For the second consecutive year, NTT IndyCar Series racer Conor Daly, newly signed with Ed Carpenter Racing to contest the series’ road and street courses (in addition to the 104th Indianapolis 500), continues to race on the dirt; Indy 500 racer Australian James Davison is entered as one of 54 rookies in this competitive field.
In all, 39 states and four countries apart from the USA – New Zealand, Australia, England and Canada – are represented on the 35th Chili Bowl entry list. USAC has 12 entries from its National Midget ranks, including Dave Darland, Chris Windom, Jerry Coons Jr., Logan Seavy, Justin Grant, Zeb Wise and Brady Bacon.
The World of Outlaws’ NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is sending regulars Brad Sweet, 10-time series champ Donny Schatz, 2013 series titleholder Daryn Pittman and 51-time feature race winner David Gravel.
Heat races at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl get underway on January 13th while the feature contest takes place on the 18th, culminating in the Championship A-Main contest, with video coverage beginning at 7:30PM CST. Broadcast coverage is being provided by MAVTV and LucasOilRacing.TV. Check local listings if you can’t make it to Tulsa. Guaranteed the air will be cleaner in front of your television.