Emmett Hahn has stated that the Chili Bowl will grow with or without Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson
Yikes. But, who didn’t see this coming?
Kyle Larson won his first Chili Bowl Nationals in 2020. From victory lane, Larson said, “I’m sorry NASCAR. I’m sorry Daytona but this is the biggest f’ing race I’ve ever won.”
Larson followed that up by winning the 2021 Chili Bowl Nationals. That was a prelude to his NASCAR Cup Series championship later that year.
The Chili Bowl Nationals is the biggest dirt midget race of the season. The race sees near 400 entries, chasing a famed Golden Driller trophy.
Larson is an avid dirt racer and a regular in victory lane. In the dirt racing world, Larson has won $50,000 in the Prairie Dirt Classic, $150,000 in the Knoxville Nationals and $175,000 in the King’s Royal. Despite major prestige, the Chili Bowl payout sits toward the very bottom of his feature winnings. The $20k+ feature wins for Larson are endless.
For 2023, the Wild West Shootout at Vado Speedway Park runs during the week of the Chili Bowl Nationals. The dirt late model event has five $10,000 preliminary features capped by a $25,000 to win finale. As of now, that event interests Larson more than a week-long Chili Bowl Nationals that’s capped by a $10,000 feature.
And as for the 2023 Chili Bowl Nationals, don’t expect Larson on the entry list…
Kyle Larson isn’t sure he’s running the Chili Bowl Nationals
“So, I’ve been going to the Chili Bowl for 15 years, it’s a great event and I love it,” Larson told Racing America on Wednesday.
“I’ve spent half of my life going there. But now that I’ve started racing in these other big events, against big names, and they just feel like a bigger deal to me than the Chili Bowl.”
Emmett Hahn co-founded the famed indoor race with Lanny Edwards back in 1987.
With pay-per-view and streaming services gaining massive traction in the world of dirt racing, the money has been passed down to the racers. Special event payouts continue to increase, across the board in multiple racing divisions, with the exception of the Chili Bowl Nationals.
“I just don’t see the race as one of the biggest ones like I used to because it hasn’t grown like other big races have.”
“I’m just at the point where I want to see the purse grow a lot. So, for the time being, and unless that happens, I won’t be running it this year and I know there are a lot of racers that feel the same way.”
Emmett Hahn responds
The event is hosted in the Tulsa Expo Center. And there’s a contract to keep it there through 2034. The Expo Center offers limited crowd attendance as the bleachers are already at the ceiling.
Hahn says he won’t be paying $50,000 to win because he doesn’t have it. Aside from the rental of the building, he noted that the Fairgrounds take concession income around $1 million from the Tulsa Shootout and Chili Bowl Nationals each year, that revenue doesn’t go to the promoter.
Hahn stated, “I don’t like hearing that it’s not as big of a race because of the purse because what other race is creating NASCAR careers like this one is?”
“Bell started this crap two years ago and it’s just a shame because no one has called me,” Hahn says. “They have my number. Chase Elliott has my number. I’m really easy to get a hold of, and I would have this conversation with them too but they’ve all gone straight to the media.”
Bell hasn’t confirmed if he’ll run the next Chili Bowl.
“I would hate it for fans who wanted to see them, but this race grew without them and will continue to grow if that’s what they choose.”
Hahn added, “They are not going to back me into a corner and I will not be backed into a corner.”
The Chili Bowl Nationals is scheduled for January 9-14, 2023 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.