Racing Around The World: The Chili Bowl. Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Chili Bowl

Every January for the last 27 years the Tulsa Expo Centre hosts the Chili Bowl: 5 nights of indoor Midget racing otherwise known as the Super Bowl Of Midget Racing.

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Every year a Clay Oval is built within the massive pillar free Expo centre which remains one of the worlds largest clearspan, column free buildings in the world. And is recognisable by the 76 foot Golden Driller that greets visitors.

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Getting There.

From the UK we got flights to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in northern Texas, picked up our rental car and headed East on State Road 635 then North on High Way 75.
Following the 10 hour flight, the hour or so queuing at boarder control, what seemed like an hour drive just to get off the air port (Texan’s say everythings bigger in Texas and DFW is quite simply a huge airport) we bedded down for night about an hour north on 75, after stopping for a much needed Stake N Shake.
You could drive all the way up to Tulsa staying on the 75 this will take you just over four hours non-stop if you so like, but we had other plans.

Original Route 66

We came of the 75 at Durant, Oklahoma and went North across county on the 48, 3, 3E / 377 to Stroud where we picked up the original route 66 all the way to Tulsa.
If you choose this more scenic route over the Interstate then I’d recommend the Rock Cafe in Stroud on Route 66 for lunch.

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I would also recommend a stop at the old iron bridge and abandoned drive in movie theatre just south of Sapulpa again on the original route 66 (that runs parallel to the new Interstate 44).

The Chili Bowl

4145 21st East Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74114 – 1/4 mile indoor clay track.

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The Chili Bowl has grown into a must do event for both fans, drivers and team owners alike since the opening 1987 two day event that attracted 52 cars. Today the Chili Bowl is run over five days Tuesday to Saturday plus a full practice day on the Monday (which is FREE to view) and draws in excess of 270 cars !!!

We upgraded our seats to include full Pit Passes at a cost of $90. each for the full week. This gives you unrestricted access to the Pits before, during and after racing. You seat allocation is marked onto your Pit Pass Wrist Band and can NOT be removed. You will have to submit your race tickets for the wrist band. But if you would like to keep your tickets for soveneiurs let the lady in the ticket office know and your tickets will put into a envelope which you collect from the main office on Saturday Night after the racing.

The pits are all inside and take up the other half the building, here you can mingle with drivers, pick up a team / event Tee as well as get up close to the cars.

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The Chili Bowl is a ‘no rules’ event. What that means is your see a whole host of different midgets, probably as close to BriSCA F1 open car specs (within specs) that you’ll ever see in American racing.
The following photos demonstrate the various engines, off sets you will see racing against each other nightly.

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As if that was not enough for you then can also look round the week long trade show that’s also inside this huge building. Everything from Racing Books, Tees, Car parts, Racing Suits, Helmets to Free Beer Tokens for the local strip club (with free curtsy bus following the racing).

The Chili Bowl is more than just 5 nights of racing, it’s grown into the Mardi Gras of short track oval racing. There is a real party feel all week. It appears everyone is there for a good time, if your into whinging and fault finding your probably best to stay at home. But if you fancy a good time, hanging out sinking a beer or two, wearing Mardi Gras Beads and basically having a good time then your probably going to like it.

Jeff the home straight Party Guy.

Jeff the home straight Party Guy.

Turn Four 'HAY' Man

Turn Four ‘HAY’ Man

The racing is fast and furus and the guys that run the show work unbelievably hard night after night. There is minimal stoppage time. From hot laps to the checked of the A-Main it’s go go go.

So how do you get 270+ drivers down to 24 for the Saturday A-Main Feature. Races and lots of them.

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The week is broken down into Qualifying nights with each driver racing either Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday in their qualifying night.
Where they will attempt to race it into that nights A-Main. The Top 3 from each nights Qualifying A-Main will be locked into the Saturday A-Main Feature.
The remaining not-qualified drivers (depending on points scored both from finishing places and passing points) will then have to race their way through a series of races on Saturday hoping to make it onto the main grid.
You got it, it’s a non-stop race fest !

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As ALL race cars use transponders, this complicated sounding format actually works with min fuss or bother and the commentators keep you up-to-date as to who’s where. Each day a line up sheet of who’s racing and in which race is available (You’ll need to purchase an event programme and inside is the daily line-up tokens)

Now you’ve read a little bit, here’s the good bits. Make sure you watch these Video’s that are posted below. The Larson / Swindell racing is simply breath taking even on video !!

VIDEOS of the 25th Chili Bowl

The 2013 Chili Bowl – The Short Film. By Loudpedal Productions.

Racing action. By Loudpedal Productions

Stephen Cording. January 2013.

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