The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals is one of America’s most popular grassroots racing events. The indoor miniature car event (a small dirt car) on the 0.25 mile dirt track at the Tulsa Exhibition Center is known as the Midget Racing Super Bowl.
Each year, hundreds of big names in the motorsport world compete in this competition, with sponsors lining up to work with drivers big and small. This year, however, the list of participants for the Chili Bowl looks different, as Chili Bowl director Matt Ward announced that pilots under the age of 16 can participate in the event.
“The midget racing landscape has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and it has changed even more rapidly over the past five years,” said Ward. “Looking back on last season with ASCS and the shows we put on where the Midgets were racing as well, the winners were all under the age of 16.
“The Chili Bowl is all about having the best talent under one roof, and after speaking with Emmett [Hahn, founder], he totally agrees, and we were able to make the necessary changes to make it happen in January instead of 2023. ”
The rule change allows more companies to work with pilots for the Chili Bowl Nationals. This offers additional opportunities to develop dirt racing through a younger generation of drivers, who will now have the chance to race against some of the best stars in racing.
This decision is part of a national trend to allow young drivers to make a name for themselves. For many drivers, this may be their first chance to work with a large company.
Nascar drivers Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Alex Bowman, JJ Yeley, Jesse Little, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Chase Elliott, Ryan Ellis and Tanner Berryhill are in the race, as is Kasey Kahne, 18 times Cup Series winner .
With the announcement, partners line up to sponsor young drivers for the event. Among them, Motorsport Games, which will continue its pre-existing partnership with 13-year-old Gavan Boschele. The company that created Nascar 21: Ignition, will be its main sponsor for the whole of 2022, starting with the Tulsa Shootout.
Boschele is a development driver for Kevin Swindell, as well as Keith Kunz Motorsports and Toyota Racing. This means it has the support system to work its way up the motorsport rankings.
While brands may choose to work with established riders in racing, some are looking to younger riders, who they believe will rise to the occasion and give them increased visibility. If one of the young runners, like Boschele, is doing well, then the investment is worth it.
“Gavan is an incredibly talented rising star in the racing industry and one of the most accomplished junior racers today,” said George Holmquist, vice president of marketing and publishing at Motorsport Games. “Engaging in a collaborative partnership with Gavan made sense on many levels, as his family and team share our same core values.
“They have a huge passion for the sport, work hard no matter what challenges are presented and continually dedicate themselves to being the best they can be, all of the aspirations that we seek at Motorsport Games with our business and our games.”
Ryan Timms, 15, is also entered in the Chile Bowl Nationals. Among its sponsors are PristineAuction.com, DriveWFX.com, and a handful of other companies.
The Chili Bowl Nationals will take place January 10-15, 2022, with coverage of the event televised by Flo Racing and MAVTV.