In 1971, Dickie Davis started near the back of the 36-car starting field at the fourth Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. At the end of the day, Davis won the race, even after a protest was filed by Freddy Fryar. Two years later, Davis won the race again, and once again, a protest was filed.
Two different races, two protests, two different reasons, but the same winner. Dickie Davis was declared the winner both times, and at the time he was just the second person to win the Snowball Derby multiple times.
When Davis won his first Snowball Derby, Freddy Fryar filed a protest because he believed that Davis was a lap down. The scorers found that Davis was correct and was on the correct lap and was the winner of the race.
Most would be stressed in that situation, and stress would be understandable. You just won the biggest race of the year, and now it could potentially be taken away. But Davis said he didn’t feel any stress at all.
“I wasn’t really worried because I knew where I was. They could have their opinion and I had mine, but I knew where I was on the track. I was on his lap. But Freddy came back and won a couple too so he got his.”
The early 1970’s were certainly eventful for Davis in Pensacola, Florida. In addition to winning two Derby’s, he also finished second twice. And, he also didn’t qualify for the 1972 Snowball Derby, the year after winning the race.
“When you’re trying to make a field of 36 cars and you have 90 cars, it just takes one bobble and that can put you from first to last. It’s all part of it. You win some and lose some. I wasn’t discouraged. It was just one of those things.”
Davis came back to the Derby one year later, made the show and won it again. And was protested again. But this time for an entirely different reason.
At the time, the Snowball Derby was 200 laps long instead of 300 laps like it is today. Davis ran all 200 laps without pitting for fuel. According to Davis, Bob Senneker filed a protest because he didn’t believe that anybody could run all 200 laps without pitting for fuel with a legal fuel tank.
“I was running a 322 cubic inch engine and were running nine pounds per cubic inch,” explained Davis. “So I was 300-400 pounds lighter than everyone else. I don’t know if I got better gas mileage or not. But I ran aviation fuel and put it in a drum with dry ice for two days to thin it down. I don’t know if the lightness of the car helped or what, but being able to run 200 laps on one tank of gas was close. But it made it.”
To measure the size of the fuel tank, Davis said the race officials drained it, although “there wasn’t anything left in it,” and then took it to a local gas station in Pensacola and filled it up.
“It rang up 21.6 gallons,” which, according to Davis, was the legal size at the time.
The Snowball Derby turns 50 this year on December 3. Whether it’s about left-side weight violations or tungsten or anything else, there’s been just as much drama after the race as there is during the race at the Snowball Derby.
But that’s not anything new. Just ask Dickie Davis. Fortunately for Davis, he got to keep his trophies. Others haven’t been so lucky.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Charles Head Facebook Post