The 14th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals

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The A-Main feature race saw an excellent mix of racers from various regions. Dave Darland had set pole position and looked to improve on his second place finish last year to outside front row rival Dan Boorse, 1999 Chili Bowl National Champion. The rest of the field consisted of Cory Kruseman, Shane Cottle, Bud Kaeding, Joe Boyles, Tracy Hines, Greg Lueckert, Boyd Calvert, Matt Westfall, Jason Lefler, Don Lehmann, Kevin Doty, Keith Rauch, Sammy Swindell, Kevin Olson, Michael Lang, Casey Slocum, Mike Hess, Gary Wright, Jimmy Sills, Critter Malone, and Ricky Shelton. Much of the faster entries became entangled in incidents during the 50 lap race and saw some of the odds-on favorites fall to the side. Corey Kruseman took the point early on and it looked good for him and his Lealand McSpadden-tuned Bondio midget. Dan Boorse and crowd favorite Gary Wright went for several laps nearly side by side before Wright's car jumped the berm and he fell back with some sort of damage to the rear of the car. A few laps later and he jumped the berm again flipping violently collecting Jason Lefler and Kevin Doty as cars scrambled to avoid his stranded car. Luckily no one was injured and the racing resumed after the carnage was cleared up. Just as the green flag came out Boorse pulled to the infield as a universal joint on the drive shaft punctured the oil pan and spewed hot oil on his feet. He too escaped uninjured. Kruseman began to pull away from the field after the track began drying and went on to an easy win. Shane Cottle, midget rookie, came in second about four seconds adrift followed closely by Bud Kaeding. The Californian Kaeding finished on the podium after advancing from the B-Main proving his skill on the tight slippery circuit.

There were numerous awards and trophies earned during the week of racing at the fairgrounds. The Special Appreciation Trophy went Ron Byerly, Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and Training of O'Reilly Auto Parts for sponsorship and charity work. The Best looking Car Award from the Tulsa Quarter Midget Association went to Rick Ellis and his #99 car. The Hard Luck Award went to car owner Steve Peachy after driver Travis Rilat flipped the car on three different occasions requiring extensive rebuilds. The Ron Hughes Sportsmanship Award went to World of Outlaws standout Jack "Dew-It" Hewitt for building an amazing two seat sprint car and taking many charity contributors and handicapped kids for hot laps in the awesome machine. The Rich Vogler Hard Charger Award went to A-Main rocket Bud Kaeding for making up the most positions in the A-Main race after coming from last place to third. The races were all sold out for the three nights of qualifying and racing with 11,300 in attendance on Saturday night and approximately 27,600 in total attendance for the entire three days. The races were also simulcast to the various midget racing hotbeds around America.

Other events that I was most impressed with were the vintage midgets(left) that were present and their history. Two Bob Nowicke specials were present that were raced by Lloyd Ruby and A.J. Foyt back in the 50s and 60s. These cars are about seven feet long with small 13 inch diameter tires and 150 horsepower Offenhauser engines. The drivers took them all out on a parade lap and it didn't take long before the drivers were flinging these wonderful machines about. The howl of the Offys was amazing through the straight open headers. Not one of these cars had a roll over hoop that went above the driver's shoulders and it was easy to see how midget racing in those days was hazardous at best.

I wholeheartedly recommend anyone check out a midget race whenever available. This is the king of racing where nearly all of America's great drivers got their starts before moving on to higher profile national and world championships

Text and Photos copyright Kevin Camp 2000

Views and opionions are those of Kevin and not necessarily those of