First Start for Dyson Following 2016 Season-Ending July Crash.
Third Chili Bowl Start for Two-Time IMSA Prototype Champion.
STAMFORD CT (January 5, 2017) With his race car tumbling violently end-over-end and out of Pennsylvania’s Big Diamond Speedway oval track last July 29th, Chris Dyson was not thinking about when his next race would be. But as he began his recuperation from back and rib injuries sustained in the accident, a major motivator in Dyson’s recovery was the desire to get back into the cockpit as soon as possible. Now that he’s healthy and restored to prime condition, Dyson’s first race back comes January 10-14 at the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals midget races at the indoor Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Dyson’s Chili Bowl efforts will be sponsored this year, as they were in 2016, by Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, America’s original and best-selling tobacco-free smokeless brand. It also marks Dyson’s third consecutive start in the event that annually marks the start of the North American racing season. As in the past two years, Dyson will be driving a Spike / Esslinger car fielded by two-time Chili bowl champion Cory Kruseman.

“Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff is pleased to be partnering again with Chris Dyson at this year’s Chili Bowl Nationals,” said Dave Savoca, President of Smokey Mountain Chew. “Chris did a great job representing our brand at last year’s race. He is a talented driver on the track, and an equally excellent spokesperson for our brand off the track. The Chili Bowl is recognized as the ‘Super Bowl’ of midget racing, with drivers from all over the world. We couldn’t be more thrilled to return to this prestigious event with Chris and Kruseman Motorsports. The Chili Bowl provides a huge platform to market our tobacco-free, nicotine-free chew. Chris will continue to be a great ambassador for our brand and stand out as one of the stars to beat from the wave of the green flag to the checkers.”
“I am so eager to be racing again,” said Dyson, a two-time professional road-racing champion with the International Motor Sports Association and a veteran of more than two decades of motorsport competition. “And I’m extremely pleased and so grateful to be doing the Chili Bowl with Cory Kruseman again, and with my #16k in Smokey Mountain Chew colors.”
Dyson admitted it’s taken a lot of work to return to the physical condition necessary to compete in top-line motorsports. “I won’t kid you, the crash last summer was the worst one of my career, but I never doubted for a moment my desire to get back in a race car, and my family was really supportive. But getting physically healthy was a real challenge. It was frustrating having to scratch last year’s schedule, because we’d had a ton of races planned in August and September. And it was even tougher to have to wait a couple of months before I could really start working out and rebuilding my strength, but I had to accept that as part of a healing process. My first cycle of workouts was pretty humbling and challenging, but I knew getting strong again was a critical element in getting back in the car. That was really motivating.”
“When I started training again, I was pretty careful. I’d had a shoulder injury all year in 2015 that had really affected my gym time that whole season, and then there was the long layoff after the crash (at Big Diamond Speedway). So it had been a while since I’d really able to train properly. The first two weeks back in the gym, I was wondering what the hell I was doing, because it just wasn’t happening. Then, a week or so later, it was like a light switch went on, and for the last two months I’ve been pushing myself to the best conditioning I’ve enjoyed in years.”
Once his physical condition permitted, Dyson did some testing with his 2003 IMSA championship-winning Lola-AER sports-racing car at the HSR event at Sebring. “We just managed a day at the track,” Dyson noted, “but it was a great reminder of how much I love driving race cars. And more than anything else, driving a lightweight, high downforce car again was a great way to see where the fitness was, and I was pleased with how quickly my physical responses returned.” A few days later, it was back into his Chili Bowl midget for a shakedown test at Kruseman’s home track in Ventura, California. “You couldn’t get the smile off my face after those few days (in Sebring and Ventura),” Dyson said. “You don’t know how much you’ve missed competition until you get back in the car after an enforced layoff. It’s like a part of your soul lights back up. If you want something badly enough, you’ll be amazed how hard you can push yourself to get there. I’m honored to be able to compete again next week and to have the support a sponsor with such a positive mission as Smokey Mountain Chew is very gratifying.”
As a pre-Chili Bowl tune-up, Dyson had planned on competing in the #16k in last month’s Junior Knepper 55 USAC indoor midget race. But severe weather prevented Dyson, whose home is in upstate New York, from getting to the race venue in Du Quoin, IL. Still, he was encouraged by the strong performance of his Kruseman Motorsports teammates at the event. “It shows that our cars have what it takes to compete against the best of the best that will be in Tulsa next week,” Dyson said.