Kaidon Brown just wanted the opportunity to compete against the best midget racers in the world.
The 19-year-old from Sydney, Australia had raced against Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Tyler Courtney at Western Springs Speedway in Auckland, N.Z. But that was just a sample size of the 360 drivers that fill the Tulsa Raceway Expo in January.
After finally running the No. 97W for Matt Wood Racing in the Chili Bowl Nationals last week, Brown was blown away by his rookie experience.
“It was really awesome to be here,” Brown said. “I have to thank Matt Wood and Shane and Dustin Golobic, who manage the team and set up these cars. They’re beautiful pieces to drive. It’s a great privilege to be part of this team.
“When I first talked to you two years ago, I told you it was a dream to one day come to the Chili Bowl and now I’m finally here.”
Stu McCarthy, the track announcer at Valvoline Raceway outside of Sydney, recommended Brown to Matt Wood.
Brown got up to speed racing with the team during the November West Coast swing at Placerville Speedway, Bakersfield Speedway and Ventura Raceway before tackling Tulsa. While he didn’t set the world on fire in the Sunshine State, Brown was better prepared for the spectacle that is Chili Bowl.
For Brown’s qualifier on Monday, he finished third in Heat 9. He then came from eighth in Qualifier 4 to finished fourth and transfer to the first B Main. Brown finished fourth again, then lined-up 23rd in the 30-lap feature. Kyle Larson won the race, Brown finished ninth—one position ahead of Alex Bowman.
On Saturday, Brown started second in the first C Feature and held off a field that included Gio Scelzi, Chase Briscoe and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. But the stacked talent in the B Main proved too daunting a task.
“Obviously, wish I could have made it through the B Main,” Brown said. “The car was a bit loose and I really couldn’t do much, especially with how tight the competition is. But I’m happy to make the B Main my first trip here.
“It’s a really unique place. The atmosphere is amazing. Hopefully, I’ll be back. I’m never seen anything this big an spectacular. I knew what I was getting myself into coming here, but it definitely exceeded my expectations.”
Brown is putting racing on hold to pursue his studies in Australia.
“I’m not hanging up my helmet, I love it too much,” Brown said. “But I do have to prioritize my university at the moment. I’m studying to become a doctor. Hopefully, I can get back over here for the California midget swing and the Chili Bowl—because it aligns perfectly with my university break.
“If I can do that, I’ll be a happy man.”