Chili Bowl Sprint Car Races bring in thousands to Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. — As thousands of people head to the Chili Bowl Sprint Car Races this week, FOX23 is told that the event is set to make the City of Tulsa $30 million.

Mayor GT Bynum said he is excited that more people are visiting Tulsa.

“We have people from all 50 states in the union and experiencing what the citizens of Tulsa are investing in to build the best city that we can build and you have great competitors from all around the country coming here all around the world actually with multiple countries represented coming here and discovering what our city has to offer,” Bynum said.

The Chili Bowl isn’t just about the racing. There are around 100 vendors that attend the races, and they come from all over the country.

Carsyn Elledge runs Raceline, a business that sells shirts and hats. Elledge came to Tulsa from Indiana. She told FOX23 that she knew this race would be a money-maker for her.

“I just love to coming to tulsa because first of all it’s indoors and it’s freezing outside but again like I said it’s just s fun there’s just so many people and so many kids of people so much to look at and lots of good racing to watch,” Elledge said.

It’s a record breaking year for The Chili Bowl. There are 395 teams from across the U.S. and around the world competing. With all those people, the event provides a boost for local businesses as well.

Chad Wheeler, a Muskogee man, told FOX23 he sells racing simulators. He explained that having world-class drivers so close to his home has helped his business take off.

“It’s a miracle to have it here in Oklahoma and we’re so lucky that we have it. As far as pushing our product it’s awesome because you have everybody here and not only that you have them here for a week,” Wheeler said.

He also said his company actually took off during the pandemic because the drivers brought this machines to keep their kills going.

“COVID was crazy for everyone but you had all these race car drivers that were locked up at home and couldn’t do anything so we kept them racing and kept their skills in tact and it was a really good deal. but the chili bowl’s been special to us because we have this platform that’s actually in our backyard,” Wheeler explained.

As thousands of people head to the Chili Bowl, FOX23 was told as much as possible is being done to keep everyone safe amid rising COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.

Mayor Bynum explained that the City of Tulsa has done what they can to make the event as safe as possible.

“The right protocols are in place, and we have everything in place that we need for people to have a safe great time,” Bynum said.