WILKINSON — Lincoln Chapple likes to say that when his son, Isaac, isn’t working or driving a car, he’s thinking about doing those two things.
In Isaac’s defense, he can’t afford to think about anything else these days. Not with the biggest race of his life coming up.
Isaac, a 17-year-old from Wilkinson, is gearing up for the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., a four-day event referred to as the Super Bowl of midget car racing.
As of Tuesday, 284 drivers were set to compete in the dirt-track event. The field includes 16-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner Kasey Kahne and four-time defending Chili Bowl champ Kevin Swindell. NASCAR driver and native Hoosier Tony Stewart is a two-time winner of the race, but cannot compete this year as he recovers from a broken leg.
The Chili Bowl, which takes place in the Tulsa Expo Center, begins Jan. 14 as drivers go through various qualifying heats in an attempt to make the A-main field. Only 24 cars will take to the track on Jan. 18 in the final go-around.
“One of the biggest goals in midget racing is to win the Chili Bowl. The names who have been apart of it…to be on that list would be awesome,” Isaac said. “My goal is to be Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year. That would be a big deal too.”
The Chapples are keeping their expectations realistic for Isaac’s first trip to midget racing’s main event.