Pensacola, Florida may be towards the bottom right-hand corner of your US map, but this week, this little haven in the Sunshine State will be racing central. The 47th annual Snowball Derby will offer of a heaping helping of short-track racing this Sunday afternoon at Five Flags Speedway.
As always, there will be a NASCAR presence at the half-mile oval. Two young drivers known well to NASCAR fans will be in the Snowball Derby field. Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott- who became the derby’s youngest winner ever at age 16 in 2011- will be on hand. Erik Jones- a four-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series- pursues history as he seeks to become the first competitor in the event to pull off the three-peat.
Elliott won’t be the only entry with a NASCAR pedigree. John Hunter Nemecheck and CoreyLaJoie are in the field, and so is Jeff Burton’s son Harrison. 2004 derby winner Steve Wallace (Rusty’s son) is entered, along with 2010 winner Johanna Long- one of Pensacola’s own and a true favorite of the fairer sex among race fans.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. ARCA 2014 series runner-up Grant Enfinger will race the 300-lap big event Sunday. Name familiar to hardcore race fans and other fans in the region include Spencer Gallagher, Mike Garvey, Ben Kennedy and Mason Mingus.
For this fan, races like the Snowball Derby are a reminder of why he likes racing. We’re talking Super Late Model racing on a short track, free of all the trappings that often cast a cloud over the big national and international racing bodies. It’s racing like it was meant to be, and a good cure for the winter blahs.
One of the cool things for race fans like yours truly is that the race can be seen via online streaming by 51 TV. Heck, with mostly sunny skies and a high of 66 degrees forecast, I’d be about half tempted to make the cross-country trip.
Whether its events like the Snowball Derby, the Prelude To A Dream, the Chili Bowl or Speedweeks at Daytona, auto racing filled with one-of-a-kind events that make it unique. This Sunday’s race comes at a perfect time, enough to tide a fan over until February.