2017-11-01 / Features


Christian Eckes, winner of the 49th Snowball Derby. Photo credit Five Flags Speedway Christian Eckes, winner of the 49th Snowball Derby. Photo credit Five Flags Speedway It all started in 1968 when a young man from Ohio, named Tom Dawson, moved to Pensacola with a fledgling vision for a high-banked half-mile speedway. Since then, the biggest names in stock car racing have converged annually in Pensacola to compete in what is now known as the Snowball Derby. Names like Allison, Elliott, Waltrip, Busch, Wallace, Kenseth and Petty — the list goes on as the legend continues to grow. It is now considered the biggest and most prestigious short-track race in America.

November 29 through Dec. 3, Five Flags Speedway will host the 50th running of the Snowball Derby. From its humble beginning as a single-day event in 1968, the Snowball Derby has evolved into a week-long extravaganza that is much more than just a stock car race. Competitors come from all over the nation to conquer the mystique of Five Flags Speedway and to add their names to the record books alongside some of the greatest names in racing. Race fans, too, travel from all corners of the country and Canada to witness not only great short track action, but to take in all the related activities in and around the Snowball and to experience the genuine Southern hospitality displayed by the Pensacola community.

The festivities will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. with the Speed51 Party at Beef O’Brady’s in downtown Pensacola.

For the first time ever, racing will start on Wednesday. The Pure Stock division will be in action for a 50-lap feature at 7 p.m., after which, the annual Green Flag Party will take place in the Fan Zone. The party is free to attend, with music and fun for all, and will be highlighted by Chili for Charity benefitting The Pensacola Miracle League.

Practices begin Thursday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. for Pro and Super Late Models, with Sportsmen and Outlaw Stock practice at 5 p.m. The Sportsmen 50 and Outlaw Stock 50 will begin at 8 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 1, is Snowball Derby Pole Day, with the most dramatic qualifying session in short track racing scheduled for 6 p.m. The Modifieds will be the featured race action of the night, with a B-Main qualifier at 8 p.m., followed by a 75-Lap Feature Race.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Snowflake, Pro Trucks and Snowball cars practice at 10 a.m. Pro Trucks qualify at 1:30 p.m., with Snowflake qualifying at 2 p.m.

The racing list includes the Snowflake qualifying race (50 laps), the Snowball qualifying race (50 laps) and The Pro Truck B-Main. At 7 p.m., the green flag drops on the Allen Turner Snowflake 100, followed by the Pro Truck 50.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, a worship service will be held at 10 a.m., with the cars to grid at noon, class photo by 12:30 p.m., driver intros at 1:15 p.m. and the Snowball Derby at 2 p.m.

Among the sponsors for this year’s Snowball Derby is Pensacola Sports, which will be busy this month with the start of the Subway High School All Star Series.

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