ARDC Sends a "Baker's Dozen" To The Chili Bowl Tulsa, OK - January 1 - The 19th annual Chili Bowl, taking place from January 5th through the 8th in Tulsa, OK, is boasting an entry field of 255 midgets. No less than 13 of those entries are...
ARDC Sends a "Baker's Dozen" To The Chili Bowl
Tulsa, OK - January 1 - The 19th annual Chili Bowl, taking place from January 5th through the 8th in Tulsa, OK, is boasting an entry field of 255 midgets. No less than 13 of those entries are coming from the ranks of the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC).
One could call it a "Mega-Miller" assault by ARDC, as championship winning Mega Motorsports and the Miller Racing Team will make up nine of the 13 ARDC entries for what has become one of the premier auto racing events in North America. Joining those two teams will be the versatile Frank Polimeda, Fort Lee, NJ, two-time ARDC champion Bryan Kobylarz from Birdsboro, PA, Donnie Trent of Honeybrook, PA, and Chris Morway of Hebron, CT. Trent, who captured his second career ARDC victory during 2004's final race at Trailway, and Kobylarz will be teammates for Starrett Racing of Virginia as they attempt to battle their way into the A-main at the Chili Bowl.
Mike Miller, Birdsboro, PA, is fielding a six-car team in his second visit to the Bowl. Miller, his daughters Tracy and Michele, and the Royersford Rocket, Steve Buckwalter, will be teamed up with 1990 Chili Bowl winner Johnny Heydenreich of Indianapolis, IN, and Brownsburg, Indiana's Marc Dailey. In 2004, Miller Racing trailered four cars to Oklahoma, with only Buckwalter managing to qualify for Saturday night's A-main. Optimism rides high for this year, though, because Miller feels they will be more prepared for the star-studded event.
"Last year was our first attempt, even though Steve competed at the Chili Bowl in 2002. And we learned so much from last year's experience," explained Miller. "But you have to keep things in perspective, too. They've got, what, 255 entries for this year? And you see the best of the best at the Chili Bowl," continued the runner-up in last season's ARDC point standings. "All those drivers and all those champions are racing for just 24 starting spots in Saturday's big race. There's a lot of luck involved, but it's so much fun just being there and being part of such a great event."
Jeff "Milt" Aquilini, who is co-owner of Mega Motorsports along with Larry Gauker, agreed with Miller's assessment on the difficulty of simply qualifying for the Chili Bowl. "Ray (Bull, who has won the ARDC championship for the past five consecutive seasons) made the A-main last year, and we are very proud of that. There were 34 drivers at the Bowl last year who were either track champions or the champions of major racing sanctioning bodies. And only 24 cars get to run the A-main on Saturday. So you know that many of those champions go home early."
For the 2005 edition of the prestigious event, Mega is towing three cars to Tulsa. In addition to Bull, the Bloomsburg, PA veteran, Dave Shirk and Carey Becker will also tackle the quarter-mile dirt oval in hopes of transferring to the 50-lap A-main on Saturday. Shirk was ARDC's 2004 Rookie of the Year, narrowly beating out his teammate, Becker, for the honor.
"Carey will have a brand new Stealth Chassis for the Bowl," noted Aquilini, whose team is based in Reading, PA. We hung the old body on it, because the cars do tend to get beat up out there. The other two cars are last year's models, and they will be replaced after the Chili Bowl."
Aquilini also pointed out that Polimeda, who is driving Lou Zrinski's Kozak Precision Products no. 25, will be an "unofficial teammate" to the Mega Motorsports forces. "They are travelling out with us and will pit next to us, so we can help each other," stated Aquilini.
Qualifying takes place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with the top four finishers from each preliminary feature going directly to Saturday's A-main. The ARDC contingent has been divided into the three qualifying events as follows: on Wednesday evening, Shirk, Tracy Miller, Buckwalter, and Polimeda will compete.
On Thursday night, Bull, Michele Miller, Dailey, and Trent will try to race their way into the A-main. Friday night's action will find Mike Miller, Heydenreich, Morway, Becker, and Kobylarz wheeling their midgets on the tight, banked oval.
Adding to the excitement, a "Ladies of the Chili Bowl Dash for Cash" has been added to the Thursday night lineup this year. Sponsored by Pro Lube of Mustang, OK, the four females who entered the 19th annual Chili Bowl will compete in a $1,000, winner-take-all event after the heat races have been completed. The Miller sisters, Tracy and Michele, will take on Oklahoma's own Michelle Decker and Shannon McQueen from Bakersfield, CA.
With 255 entries representing 25 states, Australia, and New Zealand, it's no wonder a Chili Bowl championship is so special to drivers such as Tony Stewart and Cory Kruseman. The American Racing Drivers Club extends best wishes to all of its members for a safe and successful Chili Bowl. Log on to www.chilibowl.com to follow the chills and spills of this terrific event. Updates on the ARDC members will be posted daily on the club's web site, www.ardcmidgets.com.