In 1987, nearly 50 cars came to the indoor arena in Tulsa for a new race called the Chili Bowl. Under the promoting leadership of Lanny Edwards and Emmett Hahn, the race offered a respite from the cold winter weather.
Indoor racing didn't start with the Chili Bowl, but this event has elevated the concept. Many indoor races involved arena floors, but the Chili Bowl promoters brought in dirt-lots of it-to get the best racing surface possible. USAC standout Rich Vogler won the first event after starting 13th. From that beginning, it has been a parade of open-wheel standouts who have put their names on the prestigious winner's list.
Only three names grace the list more than once. Sammy Swindell leads the way with three victories, Dan Boorse has two, and this year Cory Kruseman added his second title.
Cory Kruseman captures his...
Cory Kruseman captures his second Chili Bowl win. He celebrates the victory with his wife.
Kruseman snatched the lead from Danny Lasoski at the halfway mark of the 50-lap Saturday night special. After starting fourth, Kruseman made his passes in slightly more than 10 laps to get to the front. There was plenty of excitement and passing throughout the field. Danny Stratton, who started 23rd, ended up just outside the top five.
The talk of the weekend was the performance of J.J. Yeley, destined for future fender work with Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley started his march to the A main with a victory in the F feature. In his march through the alphabet, Yeley won the E main, finished second in D main, and third in the C main. His Second Place run in the B main locked him into the finale, where he finished third behind Kruseman and Lasoski.
The honor roll of Chili Bowl winners is peppered with top standouts like Lealand McSpadden, Billy Boat, Dave Blaney, and Tony Stewart. The race draws drivers from all forms of racing, but open-wheel stars tend to dominate. Late Model racers Rick Eckert and Bart Hartman were in the '04 field with Hartman picking up a preliminary win. NASCAR racers Jason Leffler, Kasey Kahne, Yeley, and Stewart, all with open-wheel backgrounds, made the A main.
Danny Lasoski (20) goes low...
Danny Lasoski (20) goes low to pass BMARA Champion Davey Ray (5) and former Chili Bowl Champion Scott Hatton (15x).
A record 206 cars attempted to make the 24-car feature field. Drivers from coast to coast filled out the pit area, and drivers from Pennsylvania to California dotted the main event lineup.
The 19th Annual Chili Bowl, usually a sell-out, will be held January 5-8, 2005.
1. Cory Kruseman2. Danny Lasoski
3. J.J. Yeley4. Tony Stewart
5. Jason Leffler6. Dan Boorse
7. Danny Stratton8. Davey Ray
9. Tracy Hines10. Dave Darland
11. Chad DeSelle12. Boston Reid
13. Jerry Coons Jr.14. Bobby East
15. Danny Ebberts16. Josh Wise
17. Gary Wright18. Scott Hatton
19. Ray Bull20. Donnie Beechler
21. Troy Rutherford22. Jimmy Sills
23. Steve Buckwalter24. Kasey Kahne
Former champions Dan Boorse...
Former champions Dan Boorse (88) and Tony Stewart (71) do battle in the main event. Stewart comes home fourth while Boorse picks up sixth.
Eventual winner Kruseman (47)...
Eventual winner Kruseman (47) slips inside Davey Ray.
In a team car to Kruseman,...
In a team car to Kruseman, J.J. Yeley (47) works from the F main to the feature, where he finishes third. Yeley slips inside Bobby East (4).