Small cars, big money

Emmett Hahn’s little race has grown to be a big deal.
Now in its 24th year, the annual Chili Bowl Nationals is one of the most anticipated races of the season.
“I remember the first year we lost $20,000,” said Hahn, the race’s founder. “It’s grown into something successful that I am proud to be a part of.”
Successful, indeed. The Tulsa Sports Commission estimated the event’s impact on Tulsa’s economy at $15 million.
“With the budget problems we have faced this year, a $15 million impact is huge,” Mayor Dewey Bartlett said at a press conference Jan. 11.
What’s more, Bartlett said, is most of that money is new to Tulsa’s economy.
According to event organizer Lanny Edwards, of the 266 contestants that raced, 91 percent were from out of state. Additionally, 86 percent of the roughly 10,000 ticket holders per night were out-of-state visitors.
“That 90 percent from out of town leave and go back to their cities talking about the great time they had in Tulsa,” Bartlett said. “That is a great PR opportunity for us.”
The 24th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals was Jan. 12-16 at the QuikTrip Center at Expo Square.

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