SHEHEEN: Another SPEED SPORT First

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The SPEED SPORT TV crew at the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
Ralph Sheheen Mug
Ralph Sheheen.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Ten people, a 10-by-10-foot tent and a small set on top of the Keith Kunz Motorsports hauler. That was it.

That’s what we had during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals to produce our first SPEED SPORT “LIVE From” production.

It was a one-hour pre-race show from inside the River Spirit Expo Center that aired on MAVTV.

SPEED SPORT began life 87 years ago as a small section inside the Bergen Herald newspaper. Now, we have produced our first live national television show.

It was a very proud moment for all of us at SPEED SPORT and just one more incredible experience on this amazing ride as SPEED SPORT continues to be America’s Motorsports Authority.

I have worked on hundreds of live television shows during my career but never have I done one with only 10 people. Times are changing in a lot of ways.

Racers, sanctioning bodies and tracks are finding ways to put on their events while being more cost-effective, yet still delivering quality with their events.

It’s the same for those of us on the media side. SPEED SPORT has invested in and developed a new platform that allows us to do just that. “LIVE From the Chili Bowl” was a proof of concept.

It was the first of 12 “LIVE From” programs that we will produce for MAVTV during the course of this season. We think of it as America’s Pre-Race Show, coming into homes from coast to coast from many of this country’s biggest races.

Along with the pre-race TV show, SPEED SPORT will continue to deliver the best coverage you will find anywhere from these events utilizing our numerous media platforms, including magazines, websites and social media.

Nobody produced more content from the annual week in Tulsa than SPEED SPORT and its sister brand Sprint Car and Midget. A job well done by our entire staff.

Next up will be Florida Speedweeks.

— Kyle Larson did a masterful job in winning his second Golden Driller at the Chili Bowl. When I asked him how different it is driving a midget these days compared to a few years ago, he said with all seriousness, “I don’t know; I just jump in and drive it.”

I guess now we know the speed secret to all of those races Larson won last year.

— The rulebook for a midget at the Chili Bowl is much different than any other midget race during the year.

I asked Keith Kunz, the winningest car owner in Chili Bowl history with nine victories, what the latest stats and figures are for a midget competing at Tulsa Expo Raceway in January.

“The main numbers are 370 and 270,” Kunz said.

That’s horsepower and torque, with the horsepower number coming from the right-rear wheel. Cars weigh around 800 pounds with the driver, and carry 14 to 15 gallons of methanol for the 55-lap feature on Saturday night.

— Only four drivers have ever won back-to-back Golden Drillers at the Chili Bowl.

Kevin Swindell won four in a row from 2010-’13. Rico Abreu ruled the Chili Bowl in 2015-’16 and Christopher Bell won three straight Chili Bowls from 2017-’19. Larson has now won the last two editions of the prestigious mid-January event.

— Zack Morgan is a tremendous young man. Despite dealing with the challenges of having cerebral palsy, Morgan has become quite the wheelman.

He has also become friends with NASCAR star Ryan Newman. The two have spent hours talking about racing, with Newman coaching Morgan on how to improve his skills.

The Chili Bowl was the first time Newman had the chance to watch Morgan race in person. It was difficult to tell which driver had the bigger smile. I can tell you that if you spend any time with Morgan, you will walk away smiling.

He is an inspiration to anyone who is lucky enough to meet him. Keep digging Zach!

Speaking of folks overcoming cerebral palsy, congratulations to SPEED SPORT’s Jacob Seelman for being named media member of the year by the 410 Sprint Car Poll.

— While many racers have gotten into the wine-making business, multi-time AMA Pro Motocross and Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Ryan Dungey has launched a line of coffee.

The most recent blend is called Holeshot Espresso.

It’s Dungey’s fifth blend and, ironically, his racing number was five as well. As the name suggests, it help give you jump out of the gate in the morning.

It’s a small-blend batch of Colombian and Guatemalan beans roasted in a way to bring out the complex citrus and milk chocolate flavors.

If you love coffee, give RD Coffee a try. You can find a variety of flavors at rdcoffees.com. Tell Dungey you heard about it in SPEED SPORT.

— Did you know the shoe size of the actual Golden Driller that stands in front of the River Spirit Expo Center, home of the Chili Bowl, in Tulsa, Okla., is 393 DDD?