The Chili Bowl is bigger than ever this year – and with 330 drivers from 36 states and four different countries – the stakes even higher.
The pits at the Expo Center were hopping on Sunday as racing teams began gearing up for the week-long event that will cap off with about 15,000 spectators at the finale.
And that doesn't just mean big things for this competition -- it means a big economic boost for the city -- as thousands of people from across the country and Oklahoma eat, stay and shop.
The RiverSpirit Expo Center has been abuzz with activity as crews unloaded cars, changed out tires, and got things ready to roll into the arena.
"This is it, everyone's here. Anybody who's anybody who races midgets is here is at this race. It's the best of the best,” event announcer Bryan Hulbert said.
Keith Kunz, Owner of Keith Kunz Motorsports, has been coming to the Chili Bowl since 1988.
This year his team has some of the top contenders like NASCAR star Kyle Larson and Oklahoma favorite Christopher Bell.
And Kunz says the competition has only gotten stiffer. This year's race has the most entries of any Chili Bowl yet.
It is something organizers are proud of.
“We've seen it in the last few years, grow more and more and more, and we flirted with 300 the last couple years but this year, it didn't just flirt with it,” Hulbert said. “It married it and then ran away and it was just really amazing to see the turn out we have for this year."
And it's become the destination race of the offseason.
"The way they've done this, it is so unique to Tulsa that this event cannot be duplicated,” Hulbert said.
And that makes the big win a big bragging right in the racing community.
"You know, we come here to win it all, and … with our guys we want to run 1,2,3 and we've got the guys that can do it,” Kunz said.
Races start Tuesday and end on Saturday with the championship.