(WOMR file photo-Neverlift Motorsports/David Prickett Racing)
Grassroots racing’s “Super Bowl” is headed for live, primetime TV.
The 28th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire will mark its inaugural live broadcast on MAVTV American Real (channel 214 on Direct TV) for its championship round on Saturday night, Jan. 18.
Starting at 8:30 p.m. (EDT) and scheduled for three hours, the national broadcast will be the first for the event that is not pay-per-view. With 283 entries running indoors on a clay-surface quarter-mile track at the Tulsa Expo Center, the Chili Bowl format features four nights of qualifying races starting on Tuesday to establish starting spots for the finale.
MAVTV ’s decision to broadcast the Chili Bowl finale fits into the independent network’s plan to offer more live events featuring grassroots motorsports in 2014. The Chili Bowl typically is contested before sold-out crowds of 15,500 each night with a lineup of the nation’s best short-track drivers and teams plus a contingent of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series aces including Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kyle “Young Money” Larson.
“The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl has developed into a phenomenon among racing fans of all forms of motorsports over the past five years,” said Cary Agajanian (son of legendary J.C. Agajanian), motor racing attorney/agent and car entrant in many forms of racing. “Everyone in racing talks about it these days and because it is always sold out, there will now be thousands and thousands of fans that will understand what we have been raving about all these years.
“Midget racing on a dirt short track is truly one of the most thrilling forms of motor racing. Not only because of the wheel-to-wheel action, but also because the fans can see every subtle move made by drivers. Midget racing will now be elevated to a much-deserved and higher level of respect when the fans see the action live on television.”
Veteran broadcaster Dave Despain will host the event as a first-time attendee.
“I’m real excited about being there,” Despain said. “Here you have this Midget event indoors in Tulsa in the middle of winter and it’s become a major racing event. You wonder how this happened. I have a decent appreciation of Midget racing. But 80 years after the peak of Midget racing in America – from the days when they had crowds of 80,000 at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles and you have this race of unusual circumstances – it says a lot about the history and enthusiasm for that kind of racing. It’s a story I’m anxious to tell.”
Joining Despain on the broadcast will be Ken Stout doing play-by-play, color analyst Rob Klepper and pit reporters Dave Argabright and Erin Bates. The program will be produced by Lucas Oil Studios, with Corbin Daily as producer and Scott McLemore as director. Ten cameras will cover the action.
Kevin Swindell, winner of the last four Chili Bowls, is among the drivers looking forward to the increased viewership the telecast figures to provide. “I think it’s great we’re running it live,” Swindell said. “It’s something special and knowing it’s live, you don’t have to spend two days trying to keep your eyes and ears closed so you don’t find out the results. I think having it live will get more people to watch in general.”
The Chili Bowl will be the second live event produced by MAVTV and Lucas Oil Studios. The first was the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup of the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series at Lake Elsinore, Calif., last Oct. 27.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!