Starting at 8:30 p.m. ET and scheduled for three hours, it will be the first national telecast that is not pay-per-view for the iconic event. With 283 entries running indoors on a clay-surface quarter-mile track at the Tulsa Expo Center, the 28th Chili Bowl has four nights of qualifying races, Jan. 14 to Jan. 17, to establish starting spots for the final night.
MAVTV 's decision to broadcast the Chili Bowl finale live fits perfectly into the growing independent network's plan to offer more live events featuring grass roots motorsports in 2014. It also could be a ratings bonanza for the Chili Bowl, which runs before sold-out crowds of 15,500 each night and has the nation's best short-track drivers and teams plus an all-star field with NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kyle Larson entered.
"The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl has developed into a phenomenon among racing fans of all forms of motorsports over the past five years," motor racing attorney/agent and car entrant in many forms of racing Cary Agajanian said. "Everyone in racing talks about it these days and because it is always sold out, there will now be thousands and thousands of fans that will understand what we have been raving about all these years.
"Midget racing on a dirt short track is truly one of the most thrilling forms of motor racing. Not only because of the wheel-to-wheel action, but because the fans can see every subtle move made by drivers who display the quickest reactions that you will ever see on a racetrack. For the people that are unable to attend it live, because it is always sold out, they will be able to now understand how very talented the drivers are. Midget racing will now be elevated to a much-deserved and higher level of respect when the fans see the action live on television."
Iconic broadcaster Dave Despain will host the event. He's never been to the Chili Bowl.
"I'm real excited about being there," Despain said. "Here you have this midget event indoors in Tulsa in the middle of winter and it's become a major racing event. You wonder how this happened. I have a decent appreciation of midget racing, but 80 years after the peak of midget racing in America, from the days when they had crowds of 80,000 at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles and you have this race of unusual circumstances, it says a lot about the history and enthusiasm for that kind of racing. It's a story I'm anxious to tell.
"I think it's great we're running it live. It's something special and knowing it's live, you don't have to spend two days trying to keep your eyes and ears closed so you don't find out the results."
Kevin Swindell has won the last four Chili Bowls, a remarkable achievement. It's the only midget race he runs every year. He likes the idea of having the Chili Bowl on live.
"I think having it live will get more people to watch in general," Swindell said. "It's an opportunity to watch it right when it happens and you don't have to wait to find out the results."
Joining Despain on the broadcast will be Ken Stout doing play-by-play, color analyst Rob Klepper and pit reporters Dave Argabright and Erin Bates. It will be produced by Lucas Oil Studios, with Corbin Daily as producer and Scott McLemore as director.
There will be 10 cameras covering the quarter-mile track. It will be the second live event produced by MAVTV and Lucas Oil Studios. The first was the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Lake Elsinore, Calif., last Oct. 27.
"We're very proud and happy to be able to broadcast the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl on MAVTV," MAVTV President Bob Patison said. "We think it's a breakthrough for the Chili Bowl and for us."
The five nights of preliminary races up to when MAVTV begins broadcasting on Jan. 18 are available on pay-per-view at www.RacinBoys.com