As we continue to close in on the 50th Annual Snowball Derby, we at Speed51.com continue our look at the history of the event through the years. Our newest feature takes you through the race decade-by-decade and give you a look at each year’s race.
We start today with a look at the 1960s, a decade in which the first two Snowball Derbys were completed.
December 15, 1968
Pole Winner – Red Farmer (19.93 seconds)
Race Winner – Wayne Niedecken
Weather – 52 degrees
Special Note – Full-field rundown not available.
Wayne Niedecken took the lead from Red Farmer on lap 46 of the first Snowball Derby and led the rest of the way in the 100-lap race to score the win over Bobby Allison. Farmer wrecked his car in practice and ran a borrowed car in the race. Little is known about the first Snowball Derby’s full-field rundown. The press box was burned to the ground the night before the race and local drivers and friends came together to get the first show off the ground. Several eye witness accounts talk about how cold it was that day. One person claimed that leftover wood from the press box fire was used as heating wood in the first turn, and thus the Snowball Derby was born.
Pole Winner – Friday Hassler (19.920 seconds)
Race Winner – Friday Hassler
Weather – Partly cloudy, temperatures in the low 70s
Special Note – Second and final race run at 100 laps
Pole winner Friday Hassler was among the leaders all day long and took the top spot for good after a lap 81 mishap by Bobby Allison took him out of the lead. From there, Hassler sped to the finish line to beat out Jerry Lawley and inaugural race winner Wayne Niedecken. This was the final time the race was run at the 100-lap distance. A total of 60 cars tried to make the show, which was just a sign of things to come in the next decade.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com throughout the next week as we take you through the years and decades at the Snowball Derby.