By Aaron Waldron
Race report from Thomas Tran:
The RC Chili Bowl has quickly established itself as THE premier dirt oval race in the nation with some referring it to the ‘Super Bowl of dirt oval racing.’ It’s not just a race, but a unique event that has sparked the entire dirt oval racing community into a frenzy. With entry count nearing almost 300, the 2016 RC Chili Bowl was a showdown of the best dirt oval racers from around the nation gathering in Tulsa, Oklahoma to compete for the title of RC Chili Bowl Champion!
Running parallel to the Chili Bowl Nationals midget race in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the passion for oval racing is alive and going strong here in the US. The event was held over January 12-15th in the Mustang Arena on the coveted grounds of the Tulsa Expo Center, the same grounds where the real midget cars raced all week long. Being next door to the real deal had a huge bonus as there were guest appearances by racing legend Steve Kinser, Tony Stewart and many others who stopped by to check out the RC dirt oval racing scene. Professional midget racer, Justin Allgaier also stopped by to do a special exhibition run using GFRP’s prototype 1/10th scale midget car that had spectators and racers on their feet.
The track crew at the 2016 Chili Bowl did a fantastic job providing a slightly banked, loose dirt oval track with a track line of approximately 200ft in length! Thanks to Travis Young and his crew for doing a remarkable job with track care and maintenance that provided an awesome racing surface all weekend long which prevented the track from grooving up and shredding tires.
In the 1/8th Late Model division presented by Mach1, it was defending RC Chili Bowl champion, Mach1’s Ricky Layman taking TQ and leading the field around the track from the sound of the tone. With the top 2 racers slowly separating themselves from the field, Layman and Ronnie Richardson would leave the battle for 3rd to the rest of the competitors. With Layman’s smooth and consistent driving, he would start to gap Richardson as they made their way through lap traffic. Layman would take the win and once again take the checkered flag for the 2nd straight year in a row. Richardson would finish comfortably in 2nd while the last spot on the podium was a back and forth battle between Tony Carrigg and 7th place qualifier, Gary Vogel. Trading places over 8 times throughout the 4 minute main, it was Vogel taking 3rd to finish out the podium.
The SC Modified class is definitely a hot class that has attracted a lot of interest in the oval community. Custom Works’ Nathan Dean was able to set TQ and start the race in pole. Having a bit more pace than the rest of the field, Dean was able to take advantage of his TQ position and controlled the race with speed and skill. Untouched and unchallenged, Dean would cross the line in first with Justin Driemeier finishing in a solid 2nd. Moving up through the field from the 6th spot, Hyperglide/GFRP’s Dustin Malicoat would quickly move to 3rd, but getting collected with another racer, Malicoat would get dropped to 5th. Not giving up, Malicoat would charge hard to make up the loss time and eventually make his way back to 3rd in the closing seconds to edge out Chad Jones.
Wingless 13.5 is undoubtedly the hardest oval car to drive because of the no wing factor. However, Hyperglide/GFRP’s Dustin Malicoat would make it look quite easy earning the overall TQ to lead the field in this mega competitive class. Malicoat would start to stretch his lead over Custom Works’/Hobbywing’s 2nd place car, Frank Deiny. However, on lap 14, Malicoat would make contact with lap traffic tumbling down the back straightaway. Frank Deiny would jump to the lead, but it would be short lived as Deiny would also get collected in a lap traffic crash that allowed Malicoat back to the lead. From there, Malicoat would seal the deal and take the win. Deiny would hold on to finish 2nd, just 2 seconds ahead of a hard charging Eddie Hill. Hill would finish 3rd all the way from the 8th on the grid.
Midwest Modified was another solid race for Custom Works’ Nathan Dean who was able to TQ and control the field from start to finish. Relatively uncontested, Dean would finish strong and was able to watch the fantastic battle between Justin Driemeier and Eddie Hill for 3rd. Meanwhile Ronnie Richardson would finish in 2nd and Eddie Hill would just edge out Driemeier in the closing laps to finish 3rd.
The modified Late Model was the most exciting race of the weekend. Unexpected lead changes, position swaps, back marker bashing, made for an unexpected outcome. This time, TQ Nathan Dean wasn’t able to pull away and take the win as he would drop back quite early and was unable to recover. This left the doors wide open for 2nd place qualifier Custom Works’ Max Flurer. Unfortunately for Flurer, he would get collected and pushed into the marbles giving the lead to Allan Webster. The lead change would be short lived as Webster would make a bobble allowing Justin Driemeier to make a run around the outside taking over the lead with a beautiful pass. Looking as if Driemeier was going to steal the show, he would make a fatal mistake spinning his car in turn 3 allowing Flurer to sneak by in the final 30 seconds. Like a ninja, Flurer would take the win with Driemeier 2nd and Webster 3rd.
With the final A-main being the highly coveted Outlaw Sprint class, Hyperglide/GFRP’s Doug Gaut looked like he had it wrapped up until the halfway mark. With the pressure building, Max Flurer would bump Gaut just enough to make a small bobble allowing Frank Deiny to slide by for 2nd and Flurer to 3rd. With Deiny in 2nd, Gaut would get out of shape coming out of turn 4 while Deiny was able to lay the power down and take over the lead and never looked back. With another mistake by Gaut, Nathan Dean and Dustin Malicoat would pass Gaut to move into 2nd and 3rd respectively on the podium.
The 2016 RC Chili Bowl was a wonderful event filled with great racing, sportsmanship, and a whole lot of fun. Thank you to all that made the journey near and far to attend this great race. Hope to see you next year!