Eddie Tafoya Jr. Is a Late Addition to the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals

One week ago, rising sprint car star Eddie Tafoya Jr. was feeling under the weather at his home in Chino Hills, California. The last thing he was expecting to do was be in Tulsa, Oklahoma for this week’s Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. However, a phone call changed all of that, and on Thursday he will be racing at the annual event for the first time since 2021.

399646142_10168296854430201_4678307768319267264_n.jpgEddie Tafoya Jr. with his dad Eddie Sr. after a 2023 USAC main event. Tafoya photo.

After contesting the sprint car portion of the 82nd Turkey Night Grand Prix at the Ventura Raceway on Thanksgiving weekend, Tafoya did not figure to be back on the track until the 2024 USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series season opener at Perris Auto Speedway on February 24th. When one of the drivers for the famous Josh Ford Motorsports team was unable to make the event, Tafoya, the 2019 USAC/CRA Rookie of the Year, received a phone call. He gladly accepted the offer to jump into the ride and he will be living on “Tulsa Time” this week. It will be his third time competing in the Chili Bowl.

“It is actually kind of a last-minute deal,” Tafoya stated on Tuesday. “We stepped away from it (the Chili Bowl) because I do not run midgets very often. It is a big race to go to with not much experience in midgets against all these guys who do. An opportunity arose when Calderwood (driver Logan Calderwood), who was driving one of Jimmy May’s cars, ended up not being able to make it. So, there ended up being an open seat. Tommy Dunkel is driving one of his cars and he asked if we could get me in the other car.”

With more experience under his belt and prior runs at the Chili Bowl in 2020 and 2021, Tafoya hopes to better his previous outings at the race that is held inside the massive SageNet Center. In 2020, he began the finale in one of the K mains. He transferred to a J main where he started dead last in the 15-car field. He was clearly the fastest car on the track. He drove all the way up to ninth before the checkered flag ended his march forward in the 10-lapper. Thus, he missed the transfer to the I main by only three spots.

In 2021, the handsome racer started in the H main and only finished two positions shy of a transfer to the G main.

Tafoya has come a long way as a driver in the two seasons since his last appearance at the Chili Bowl. In 2022, the 2018 Perris Auto Speedway Young Guns Sprint Car champion finished third in the USAC/CRA standings. In 2023, he spent the majority of the season racing with the USAC National Sprint Cars. Despite competing in less than 50% of the National schedule, he ended up 24th in points.

“I think everything I have learned in the big car (USAC National and CRA 410 sprint cars) the last two years will help (at the Chili Bowl),” Tafoya stated. “I just need to get up to speed quicker than I did the last two times I was there. The way the format is set up, with all the passing points in the heat races, you have to be on the ball when you get on the track and make every position count. I don’t really have a preference (where he starts in his preliminary races). In this type of event, you kind of do what you have got to do. Whatever cards that are dealt to me, we will have to deal with. We will try to do our best.”

“Yeah, for sure, 100%,” the 26-year-old driver confidently stated when asked if he thought having Jimmy May as crew chief would be an advantage. “All of the cars he runs and the drivers he has always do good. He always has a nice piece. I went and put my car in the seat last weekend. It is a good-looking car with a fresh motor and all kinds of nice stuff. I am excited for it.”

Once the Chili Bowl is over, Tafoya and crew will continue to prepare for the upcoming USAC/CRA season. The main goal for 2024 will be chasing the USAC/CRA title. In addition, he will be driving a Tom and Christy Dunkel-owned car in the brand-new USCS Series.

Tafoya will contest his Chili Bowl preliminary on Thursday. Where he finishes on that night will determine where he starts in Saturday’s finale. You can watch his races live on Flo Racing. Information and subscriptions are available at the following link https://www.floracing.com/.

If you would like to hear the friendly driver on his 2023 Dirt Tracks and Rib Racks Podcast, please visit the following link https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Hox9dg0iRGXo0szabeqDy

Tafoya’s great-looking shirts and hoodies are available online at www.specialty-fasteners.com.

Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51.

Tafoya and the #51T team would like to thank Specialty Fasteners, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, Simpson Safety Products, Bell, Benic Enterprises, BR Motorsports, PSC Powder Coating, Magik Graphics, Gasper Transportation, Owen’s Insurance Services, and Weld Wheels for supporting its racing program.

Eddie Tafoya PR