UPDATE: Teenage driver out of the hospital, ‘comfortably resting’ after Chili Bowl wreck

Abreu Chili Bowl
1 Comment

TULSA, Oklahoma – Wednesday night’s preliminary feature at the Chili Bowl Nationals was marred by a terrifying crash involving Ashton Torgerson, a teenager making his debut in the prestigious dirt race.

Torgerson, 16, crashed hard on the backstretch and was thrown from his car after the 10th of 30 laps. According to the official Twitter account for the Chili Bowl, Torgerson was alert and communicating with track officials before being transported to a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital.

Per updates via social media channels representing Torgerson’s race team and family, he had been cleared to leave the hospital Friday evening. Another update Saturday afternoon relayed that Torgerson was resting in his hotel room after being discharged.

In an update Thursday afternoon from his family that was posted on social media, Torgersen had been released from the emergency room but remained hospitalized until Friday morning for another CT scan.

In a Friday update, he was reported to have been sore and resting after a CT scan discovered some “blood in the brain” that was being monitored. But the update said doctors “are amazed that he is doing so well.”

Torgerson’s family said later Friday that he was walking in his hospital room: “The blood on his brain has not worsened, and he continues to improve.”


Torgerson was making his first start in the Chili Bowl and his first start in a midget. He ran well in the earlier heat races, earning enough passing points to lock onto the front row for the start of the feature.

After starting second, Torgerson dropped in the field and was racing Kevin Thomas Jr. for seventh when the accident happened.

Torgerson clipped the wall, and his car turned sideways and flipped.

A tweet sent by Torgerson’s family after midnight ET reported that “Ashton is awake and alert at the hospital. He has feeling in his hands and feet and has passed his tests so far. He’s now going into scans. We will continue to keep you posted.” Torgerson’s team also tweeted a positive udpate.

The race resumed with Rico Abreu winning to tie a record with his eighth qualification night victory (tying Sammy Swindell and Christopher Bell, who is skipping this year’s event), but the crash cast a pall over the annual dirt racing event that draws hundreds of racers from across the country. During the red flag, drivers milled around the quarter-mile indoor dirt track after Torgerson left in an ambulance.

Torgerson’s wreck also drew an outpouring of reaction on social media.

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, who sponsored Torgerson in Micro Sprints in 2022, was among many who sent support to the driver and his family. “We’ve gotten to know them the last couple years and have loved to (see) the racer Ashton is and the friendships we have made!”

In victory lane, Abreu pledged his winnings Wednesday night to the Torgerson family.

“Those are tough moments as a race car driver,” Abreu said in the postrace news conference. “I didn’t personally witness what happened, but you could just feel the energy shift in the building. It’s anxiousness and a little fearfulness that was being created. You could feel that. And to see a curtain coming across the track. I don’t want to say any more about that.

“We’re race car drivers. We have to strap into these things once everything cools off and hat’s off to the Chili Bowl having an unbelievable safety crew on sight right away.

“You see the circumstances that have been going on across all sports recently and you just feel gutted. All I have been thinking about the last hour or so here is making sure that boy is OK.”

Abreu nipped Mitchel Moles for the victory as the top two finishers locked into Saturday night’s main event. Third-place finisher Brent Crews will have to make his way through one of the preliminary races.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.