Badger Midget Auto Racing Association
Badger Makes a Statement at the Chili Bowl
Especially for dedicated midget drivers, the Chili Bowl Nationals are the pinnacle of the sport. Several AFS Badger Midget Auto Racing Association teams made the trip to Tulsa, OK, for the 38th annual race. The event drew 380 entries. Five countries beyond the U.S. were represented.
Brandon Waelti and Parker Jones led the way for the Badger contingent with C-Main appearances on the final night. RJ Corson got a semi-feature win, Daniel Robinson made some advances while Miles Doherty, Tommy Colburn and Zach Boden had more challenging outings.
In a nutshell, here's how the Chili Bowl works. Every driver gets one race night, sometime between Monday and Friday of the Chili Bowl week. Each of those nights are scored the same and one night is no more important than the other.
Depending on how they placed on that preliminary night, drivers are slotted in one of twenty-nine races to start their day on Saturday. Culminating in the A-Feature for the 24 best on the week. In 2024, they began the day with a pair of "O-Features," for those who had the roughest opening nights.
THE WAELTI AND JONES RUN
Waelti and Jones each made the A-Feature on their opening nights with Badger-legal cars and started Saturday's, "Driller Night," in one of two C-Features. In other words, they were in the top five of the twenty-nine races on Saturday, the top 20% (or better) of the entire entry list.
Jones, driving a second Waelti car, ended up in the same C as the car owner on Saturday. At some point in the race, with Jones holding his own around mid-pack, he was on the high groove when another car tried a slide-job. The two made contact sending Jones flipping high into the fence. Waelti came to a stop to avoid the collision.
Jones walked away, but was done for the night, Waelti continued to finish the race. They were scored 17th and 14th respectively, out of 20 cars.
Jones summed up his first Chili Bowl:
I can’t thank Brandon Waelti and crew enough for letting me run the Chili Bowl Nationals with his second car. To say it blew my expectations away is an understatement. David Dewhurst and the Waelti crew gave me an unbelievable car every time it was on the track. It’s hard to believe just 22 races in a midget I made the Thursday night A main finishing 10th.
Waelti had this to say:
Both Parker and myself made prelim A-Features on our nights. I came from the back of the feature to finish 12th and Parker started 11th to finish 10th. Mind you, we are both running Badger-legal engines, competing against National engines. Brian and everyone at Esslinger Engineering provided me with a great, brand new Belt Drive K24 Honda, of their design and Mark Ray has plenty of power with his proven and reliable K24 Honda for Parker. With those results we both ended up in the second C-Main on Saturday night. Parker started 5th and me 9th. Parker ended up on the short end of a butchered slide job that ended his day upside down and me running behind him having to stop to avoid them and sending me to the back.
RJ CORSON TAKES A WIN SUMS UP WHAT THE CB MEANS
Here's what Corson had to say:
The Chili Bowl experience was life changing, walking into the building and being able to turn some laps in front of my old man in car he’s been so proud to have given me is something I’ll cherish forever. Thanks to my great sponsors, they made my dream possible,
The highlight of my week was winning the D Feature on my preliminary night. Yeah it might have only been a D, but it’s still something I’ll never forget. Rolling up the hill after the race, seeing my crew all clapping and happy made the whole trip worth it. I then lined up for the C Main and just said to my self, 'It’s time to pass cars and get up on the wheel.' And I did just that, passing National cars in a Badger-legal car was pretty awesome, came up one spot short of another transfer, but had a blast.
Saturday rolled around and I was able to transfer through one main and that in itself was another great accomplishment. Seeing all the proud faces and smiles made the whole trip a huge success, hopefully with the help of my great sponsors I’ll be back next year, there’s nothing like the Chili Bowl, the people, the atmosphere, the track, the fans, it’s truly the best racing event in the world and I’m very happy i was able to compete in it.
HOW OTHER BADGER DRIVERS FARED
Zach Boden and Daniel Robinson were in Bill Ecker's familiar #57 machines.
Boden had mechanical issues on the first night and called it a weekend.
Robinson had a promising preliminary-night outing and looked like he was going to make the A, when with a couple of laps left, the throttle cable broke, sending him to the pits for the night.
He made it interesting for a while on Saturday, advancing from the J to the I. Robinson was pushing for another transfer when he tagged, by his own admission, the car ahead of him, sending it on a gentle spin. With just a couple of laps left, was relegated to the back of the pack on the restart and missed a transfer by two spots.
Iowa's Mile Doherty couldn't work his way out of the M-Feature on Saturday.
Tommy Colburn had even worse luck, as he was caught in a pile-up during his M-Feature and had to be removed by the wrecker.
BMARA REPRESENTED BEYOND THE COCKPIT
The Badger contingent wasn't only evident on the track. They were also found elsewhere in the Tulsa Expo. President Quinn McCabe and Sgt. at Arms, Amy Schulz were busy with club business, networking, talking with vendors in the trade show and generally spreading the gospel of the Badger Midget Series.
Other Badger drivers were on hand to watch, help out or perhaps jump in an open ride should one become available. Many fans of the club also made the trip. As one of the preeminent organizations in all of racing, Badger was noticed among many during the week.
Photos: Robinson and crew, Waelti and crew, Doherty, Colburn in action and Corson (#31) in action.
Article and photo credit: Bill Blumer Jr.
Submitted By: William Blumer