TULSA, Oklahoma - Dirt track racing returns to Tulsa Tuesday night with the 26th annual Chili Bowl Nationals coming to town.

This year more than 250 drivers from nearly every state in the U.S. and as far away as Australia have traveled to Tulsa to take part in the national event at the QuikTrip Center.

One of this year's drivers includes Sprint Cup champion and 2007 Chili Bowl champion Tony Stewart. Other drivers include local racers like Donnie Ray Crawford from Broken Arrow as well as Mike Goodman, another racer from the Tulsa area.

"We kind of feel like this is our home track, that they boys around Oklahoma need to defend it. It is the greatest dirt track race in the nation, in the world for that matter, and people don't realize it's right in their backyard," said Crawford.

"I've been here since I was a little kid, saw the first Chili Bowl as a little kid," said Goodman. "It's just a real nice feeling to be able to compete in an event that I've been around since its development and watched turn into such a huge event."

The Chili Bowl began in 1987 and has grown from a small-time, word of mouth event to the sold out show it is today.

"Probably ten or twelve years ago when it really become the Chili Bowl, when we started selling out and I remember the early days when you could have shot a shotgun in grandstands and not hit anybody," said Emmet Hahn the events founder.

The event runs through Saturday night and the family atmosphere of the races is what keeps dirt track fans coming back for more.

"It's a big race, but it's kind of like a gathering of the clan," said Hahn. "I mean these guys, this may be the only time they get to see each other all year long in racing so it's a fun thing, but it's a serious deal too."

The Chili Bowl is a big boost to Tulsa's economy, with nearly 80 percent of racing fans coming in from out of state.

Grandstand tickets are sold out for ever night except tonight, pit passes are still available by calling the QuikTrip Center box office.