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I love the types of racing where winning the biggest race is the greatest prize.

Last week the open cockpit world was focused on the River City Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla. for the 35th Annual Chili Bowl. A whopping 245 drivers – from virtually every discipline of motorsports – took their shot at the biggest prize in midget racing.

For the second consecutive year Kyle Larson scored the win, after years of frustration prior to 2020. Sammy Swindell, Christopher Bell, Kevin Swindell, Rich Vogler, Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart and many other top racers have held high the “Golden Driller” trophy.

In sprint car racing, the Knoxville Nationals is king. Annually the best sprint car drivers in the world head to the quiet little town of Knoxville, Iowa for the sports highest honor. Steve Kinser – “the King” – has 12 Nationals wins, so much winning that at one point an airplane carrying a “anyone but Kinser” banner flew over the track. Donny Schatz (10-time winners), Doug Wolfgang, Sammy Swindell, Danny Lasoski, Dave Blaney, Brad Sweet and David Gravel are all Knoxville Champions.

The 60th running of the Knoxville Nationals will be on Saturday, August 14.

The 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola on the panhandle of Florida is the host for the asphalt super late model world’s Snowball Derby. For 53 years the top racers have hauled to “The Sunshine State” in December to try to claim the biggest prize in super late model racing. Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Noah Gragson, Donnie Allison, Rich Bickle, Bobby Gill, Gary Balough, Dave Mader III and Pete Hamilton are among the impressive list of winners.

On December 6, Ty Majeski added his name to that list.

The Knoxville Nationals, Chili Bowl and Snowball Derby ooze with anticipation and excitement as the week builds. In the pit area the nervous energy grows as drivers and teams near what could be a career defining moment. Outside of the pits, the party-vibe picks up momentum leading up to the finale in anticipation of what is always a great race.

The events are as much a reunion as they are a big race. Lifelong friendships have developed from one weekend of sitting or camping near total strangers. That shared passion is a bond that brings great crowds to these races.

Finally, there is that career-defining moment of victory. A win in these races will forever be part of the winner’s career highlights. And the celebration for the champion is followed almost immediately by every other team dreaming, planning, and scheming for success the next year.

That is the nature of these big races. So, while there is never a bad day at the racetrack, sign me up for those big events.


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