Chili Bowl Analysis: Racing Is Still Serious Business

Ashton Torgerson. (Petersen Media Photo)

TULSA, Okla. — Without question the dominant moment on night three of the Chili Bowl Nationals was the scary incident involving Oregon driver Ashton Torgerson.

The nature of the event and the tight confines of the track are bound to produce tight racing and in the worst outcome, accidents and flips. Getting upside down is so common that the actual number of such incidents are not only recorded but shared publicly. Presented this way it seems harmless. Yet, it never is.

At the very least time and money is lost and at the worst people are hurt. One thing is for certain. No one was prepared to see a driver essentially come out of his race car while tumbling. It happened. It happened in front of stunned fans on hand and hundreds more watching on a live stream.

As difficult as it is to imagine generations ago this was not a wholly uncommon phenomenon. Some of the most dramatic and vivid imagery in the history of open wheel racing has captured such moments. In not all cases was the outcome grim.

There were even drivers who felt that being thrown from their race car offered a better chance to escape serious injuries. But this is 2023. No one expected this.

There will be speculation about the cause of this unexpected moment. It will be necessary, but really is irrelevant and unnecessary now. The race was finished, and popular Rico Abreu did what he always does on Wednesday night at the Chili Bowl. It was dramatic and given Rico’s popularity in normal circumstances the party would have been on. It wasn’t what the moment called for.

Abreu was subdued and emotional, as were runner-up Mitchel Moles and podium finisher Brent Crews.

Sometimes one of the realities of the sport is displayed in bold relief. It is a dangerous game. No matter what the race track or how powerful the car things can happen in a hurry. The people who do this successfully are different.

When asked how he pulled it together Abreu said, “We are professional race car drivers. That’s what we do

For fans and participants racing can be fun. This is an event marked by beads parties, disco balls and hat shakes. In the end it is still a race, and racing is a serious enterprise that so few can do well.

Fortunately, based on reports from the Torgerson Racing team, Ashton Torgerson was “awake and alert” at the hospital and undergoing various tests.

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