To Finish First, First You Must Finish

Only 24 make the big show on Saturday night. It takes four nights of 70 entries racing each night to cull the field down. The top three from each night make up half the A-main's field (12). Saturday's two B-mains take the top 6 drivers from 20 entrants to fill the remaining slots for the feature. The mind boggling action each and every race, means that drivers have to be on top of their game. After all, this is the best of the best and the smallest of miscues are nearly impossible to overcome‚ yet some have. This year Kevin Swindell raced his way into the A featured main after a difficult start early in the week. The defending champion for the past four years (yes he's won from 2010-2013) worked his magic from far back in the alphabet to secure a back 12 in the "A" main Saturday.

Swindell's dad, Sammy, won in 2009, 20 years after his first of five victories at the Tulsa classic. To say the Swindell's aren't favorites would be an understatement. But this year, it was not to be. Kevin would finish in the runner up position some 1.5 seconds behind winner Clauson, while dad Sammy tangled with Kyle Larson early on but soldiered back to finish 14th.

Chili Bowl National Nuts and Bolts

Walking from the press room I ran into the "Lone Star JR," Johnny Rutherford and his beautiful wife Betty. Johnny's racing life was full of epic moments and Betty his wife was instrumental in allowing women in the pit's and paddock of auto racing. Johnny was the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 NASCAR race driving for Smokey Yunick, besides the three Indy 500s. I have to say, Johnny and Betty show no age as they light up the room.

The Chili Bowl is the real deal for any racing fan and bucket-list–worthy. Saturday morning when the doors swing open, it's a foot race to grab up the best general admission seats. "Quite the show in itself," said Chief of Security Bart. By main event time Saturday night, all the seats are full.

The Lucas Oil track crew handled all of the on-track issues with surgical precision. Moving the wounded cars right side up and away, yet keeping the show rolling allowing little time for repairs of the wounded. With the Saturday roll over count already more than 30 with dozens of races to come, the crowd saw many a star making the trip up the pathway from the track to the pits with the look, "only if that hadn't happened." Processing the looks on the driver's faces was from "How is my wife going to understand this?" to "I just spent thousands and now get nothing." The thrill of victory and agony of defeat was alive and well at the Chili Bowl.

Truly, with everything going on non-stop during any of the five days at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals it is an over whelming hit for everyone in the house and the city of Tulsa. After the daily races, fans teams and drivers fill the local hot spots. The Chili Bowl generates millions to the Tulsa economy every day. Donna Hahn Harris said, "We have surrounded ourselves with some of the best help there is. The Chili Bowl, to us, is a labor of love. It has become more than we ever dreamed it could be."

The rumor is that Forest Lucas, owner of the event's title sponsor Lucas Oil, has been asking for a purchase price from Chili Bowl founder, Emmet Hahn. Emmet's answer? "It's not for sale."

From this author's point of view, this is one of the best racing events on wheels, any place on our planet. Make your plans now for 2015, tickets are already on sale and the coveted front straight reserved seats from 2014 have first choice to lock them in. People even leave the seats in wills passing on the passion of the Chili Bowl to the next generation. Bucket-list–worthy? I'd say so!