Shelton hopes to build on recent Chili Bowl success

Chili Bowl midget car driver Holly Shelton prepares for her time on the track Thursday at the River Spirit Expo Square. (KTUL)

"This is my third year in the midget [car circuit]; my second Chili Bowl," said 22-year-old Holly Shelton Thursday afternoon at the River Spirit Expo Square. "But I've been racing Outlaw [sprint] cars since I was 12," explained Shelton.

"I won 8 races in 2015. Kyle [Larson] came out there; Ricky Stenhouse. And I beat them. So I kind of got some publicity online. And the videos traveled. And Toyota was looking for a diverse driver and it happened to be me."

In auto racing, being a female qualifies as diversity. Holly Shelton isn't the first woman to compete in midget car racing or at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl. But she appears to show the most promise as a potential contender in the event. That's considering her teammates are some of the best drivers on the circuit including 2017 Chili Bowl champion Christopher Bell, 2015 and 2016 champion Rico Abreu, and full-time NASCAR driver Kyle Larson.

"I pick up a couple tips from them; maybe eavesdrop a bit on their conversations and pick up as much as I can," Shelton admitted. "But every time you're on the track, you've got to be aggressive. You got to go for it and pass as many cars as you can."

When asked if there were any barriers Shelton hoped to break as a female competitor, "Well, last year I was in the C-Main," she explained. "So hopefully for this year, I'll be the first girl to make the A. Hopefully I'll have a good run here and hopefully carry it on through the year."

So how does Holly feel about her chances of making that kind of a run? "I feel pretty good," she said.

"I mean this Sirius XM Toyota-powered Keith Kunz prepared car, it's flawless every time I hit the race track. I just need to do my job, and we'll be good."

The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Car Nationals runs through Saturday. For more information, visit their official webpage at

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off