Chili Bowl 1997: Snakebitten Billy Boat Finally Wins Chili Bowl
The 25th annual Chili Bowl Nationals will be held Jan. 11-15 at the QuickTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.
In celebration of the Silver Anniversary of this prestigious indoor midget race, www.nationalspeedsportnews.com will be publishing the race reports that appeared in the pages of National Speed Sport News for the first 24 runnings of the event.
Beginning with the inaugural event in 1987, race recaps will be posted on a daily basis from Dec. 18 through Jan. 10.
Won’t Be Denied First Chili Bowl Victory
By DON HUBBARD
TULSA, Okla. – Snakebitten several years at the Chili Bowl Nationals, Billy Boat was not to be denied in 1997 as he blasted by Danny Lasoski on lap 44 to take the $6,000 triumph.
Boat, driving John Lawson’s Gaerte-powered Stealth, used lapped traffic to get around Lasoski and win the 50-lap event at Tulsa Expo Speedway Saturday night.
Dave Blaney, who started on the pole, finished third in the Potter Stealth. Donnie Beechler was fourth in the Wilke/Pak Ellis and Lou Cicconi, Jr. was fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jeremy Sherman, Sammy Swindell, Ron Shuman, Jac Haudenschild and Billy Pauch.
Boat said Lanny Edwards and Emmett Hahn prepared a beautiful track for the feature and he could run anywhere until the closing laps when he went to the top because the bottom started to go away.
Boat was using the new Gaerte SP-2 cylinder heads, which make less horsepower but more torque. Lasoski said he did the best he could he just got beat.
When starter Monte Edwards waved the green for the start Blaney took the lead, but the yellow appeared when Donnie Beechler got sideways in turn two and P.J. Jones had to stop to avoid him. P.J. went to the rear.
On the restart Randy Koch spun, forcing the second yellow. P.J. Jones ducked into the pits on the yellow to change a right front flat and Dean Erfurth suffered a problem and was towed to the pits.
On the second restart, Blaney took the point but Beechler passed him before a lap was complete. Hillenburg, who started third, passed Blaney for second on lap two. However, Blaney passed Hillenburg on lap three. Hillenburg kept pressuring Blaney until he took second on lap six and then slipped under Beechler on lap 11.
Beechler held second until the 16th circuit when Lasoski passed him and Lou Cicconi passed Blaney for fourth. Hillenburg’s run ended on lap 28 as the mag gear drive broke and he lost power as the yellow waved for John Stark, who took a slow roll on the backstretch.
With Hillenburg gone, Lasoski assumed the point with Beechler and Blaney in tow. Blaney passed Beechler on the 28th-lap restart before the yellow for Pauch’s stalled mount in turn two.
Beechler got back by Blaney before P.J. Jones, trying to come back to the front, ended his night with a slow flip after making contact with Jason Leffler on lap 29. Lasoski had to slow behind a lapped car on lap 44, allowing Boat to take the lead. After the final restart on lap 48 when Leffler spun in turn one it was a dash for the cash with Blaney nipping Beechler for second on the final lap.
Feature (50 laps):
- Billy Boat;
- Danny Lasoski;
- Dave Blaney;
- Donnie Beechler;
- Lou Cicconi, Jr.;
- Jeremy Sherman;
- Sammy Swindell;
- Ron Shuman;
- Jac Haudenschild;
- Billy Pauch;
- Brett Hearn;
- Robert Dolacki;
- Jay Drake;
- Tony Elliott;
- Don Lehman;
- Marty Davis;
- Tracy Hines;
- Jason Leffler;
- P.J. Jones;
- John Stark;
- Andy Hillenburg;
- Randy Koch;
- Dean Erfurth.
Thursday Night Preliminary: Dave Blaney
Friday Night Preliminary: Donnie Beechler