The 2022 racing season kicked off with a bang last weekend as nearly 400 midget racers took to the track in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the 36th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl extravaganza.
And at the end of the final race on Saturday night, Minden’s own Tanner Thorson stood on the victory stand after besting the likes of NASCAR Cup stars Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson.
Thorson is just 25 years old but has been racing for 20 years. He started racing in a box stock outlaw kart in the infield at the former Champion Speedway in south Carson City and at Thunder Bowl Raceway in Mound House. Seeking more competition, the family trekked over the hill to outlaw kart races in Chico and Red Bluff as the young racer improved his skills. From those early days in outlaw karts, Thorson moved into USAC Midgets, winning the national championship in 2016. He also races sprint cars with the World of Outlaws and moved into USAC sprint cars in 2021, winning his first race in that division to add to his 25 career USAC Midget victories. He has also raced in NASCAR’s K&N series and Camping World Truck series.
But Thorson is not just a driver. He also builds his own cars and acts as crew chief as well. Truly a renaissance man of motorsports! We congratulate Tanner Thorson, 2022 Chili Bowl champion.
This weekend the action moves from Tulsa’s indoor dirt quarter mile track to the wide open spaces of the 3.81 mile Daytona road course. The Roar Before is the prelude to the Rolex 24 at Daytona which will run next weekend.
The three prototype classes and two GT classes will total 61 cars which will practice and qualify for next week’s endurance classic. The classes are Daytona Prototype (DPi), Lemans Prototypes (LMP2 and LMP3), GT Daytona classes GTD Pro, and GTD. The GTD Pro class replaces GT Lemans (GTLM) class and features cars built to the international GT3 regulations.
In addition to the regulars in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship series, drivers from other disciplines often race in the Rolex 24. This year the NTT IndyCar series is well-represented, with four series champions and four Indy 500 winners in the field. Former champions Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon will team with 2021 champion Alex Palou aboard a Cadillac DPi prototype. Marcus Ericsson and Jimmie Johnson are also driving Cadillac prototypes while Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud are aboard Acura DPi prototypes. Patricio O’Ward will drive an Oreca LMP2 prototype while Jack Hawksworth wheels a Lexus RC F GTD Pro machine.
NASCAR’s sole contribution to the field is Austin Cindric driving a Mercedes-AMG in GTD Pro. The Roar Before the 24 will air on Peacock Saturday at 9:05 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.
Friday, NASCAR held induction ceremonies for the 2021 Hall of Fame inductees, the 12th class of honorees. This year NASCAR reduced the annual number of inductees from five to three, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Stefanik, and Red Farmer getting the nod from the committee.
Finally, the NTT IndyCar series announced the addition of a full-time female driver to its ranks. Tatiana Calderon, a 28-year old Colombian driver, will join A.J. Foyt racing with ROKiT as the sponsor on the car. Calderon will be the first full-time female IndyCar racer since Simona De Silvestro in 2013 and will run the No. 11 Chevy in all the road and street course events.
A driver for the ovals has not been named. Tony Kanaan replaced Jimmie Johnson on the ovals last season and has been confirmed for an Indy 500 ride with Chip Ganassi Racing.
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