Bryan Clauson wins the 2014 Chili Bowl in grand fashion by beating out almost 300 drivers in a near week long event. In dirt track racing the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals is one of the most prestigious events to win. It doesn’t have some of the high pay outs that the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway, or the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa, the home of the Sprint car hall of fame have as they pay 50,000, and 150,000 to win respectively. So the purse of only 10,000 to win the Chili Bowl only proves what a win means to these drivers.
There were drivers from over 30 states represented as well as drivers from 4 different countries. Drivers that drive wing, and non winged 410 CID sprint cars compete. Drivers that drive 360 CID wing, and non winged sprint cars compete. Drivers that race Late model, and IMSA series cars. Drivers from all 3 of the major levels of NASCAR compete. Some drivers just drive whatever you put in front of them. In the A main event there were over 25 championships represented from Midget racing champions to NASCAR champions in the race.
Bryan Clauson himself was the youngest winner ever in a National USAC event, and had also raced in the Indy car series to include the Indy 500. So the level of competition to win one of the most prestigious dirt track races was high indeed.
Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley (who has also won the USAC triple crown in 2003 and is one of only 2 drivers to do so), and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were some of the NASCAR drivers to compete this year. Some of the World of Outlaw drivers that competed were Sammy Swindell, Jac Haudenschild, Joey Saldana, and current defending champion Daryn Pittman.
What sets this race apart from many other races is it’s old school in the fact that you can pretty much “run what you brung”. There are very few rules to the cars outside of cubic inch displacement and weight. The cars weight around 800 LBS and average about 375 HP. Outside of the cubic inch displacement, and minimum weight there aren’t many rules regarding the car outside of safety. There are 3 different types of cars that run for the most part. Cars that drivers can race in a midget series that meet that series criteria, cars that meet most of a series criteria where they may need to make some minor adjustments to race in that series, and cars that are built specifically to run just the chili bowl.
Another unique feature about the Chili Bowl Nationals is where it’s held. It’s held indoors at the Tulsa Expo center. It has 354,000 square feet of column free space. At the time of it’s completion it was the worlds largest building under a single roof. Originally built for the International Petroleum Exposition, it put a statue in front of a golden driller (which is what the chili bowl trophy is now called). It also hosts the Wanenmacher gun show (the largest gun show in the world).