While researching information for the 50th Annual Snowball Derby, we started to ask former race winners one question that resulted in some interesting stories.
Who was your crew chief?
In the early days and even up into the 90’s, the answer to that questions was normally, “the driver.” However, along the way, we discovered some interesting history about those who have won the race from the top of the pit box.
Let’s start with 1978 when Dave Mader III won the Tom Dawson trophy. The man calling the shots in the pits that year was another Alabama native, Larry McReynolds. Years later, McReynolds would work with Davey Allison and won another big race in Florida, the Daytona 500. Six years later, the current NASCAR television broadcaster won the Daytona 500 with the late Dale Earnhardt.
As far as we can tell, McReynolds is the only crew chief to win both the Snowball Derby and the Daytona 500.
Father-son combinations have also resulted in winning combinations at the Derby. Gary St. Amant was the first we know off to win the race when he won in 1992 with his father Bud St. Amant on the pit box. Ricky Turner won with his dad Mike Turner calling the shots and Augie Grill had his dad Frankie Grill leading the team when he won the race in back-to-back years.
Donald Long was a part of a father-daughter combo as he shared crew chief duties with Kevin Starling when Johanna Long took the win in 2010.
Speaking of Grill, he’s the first driver to win the race on the box with Wayne Anderson in 2001 and then as a driver in 2007 and 2008. Ricky Turner did the same thing in reverse. He won as a driver in 2002 and then twice as the crew chief for Chase Elliott in 2011 and 2015.
As mentioned previously, not every Snowball Derby winner had their own crew chief calling the shots. In many cases, especially during the early years, many drivers called their own shots.
Rich Bickle told us three wins of his were a credit to him with the other two going to Phil Hamrack. Bobby Gill called both his wins from the cockpit.
Another well-known crew chief to win the Snowball Derby is Kevin Hamlin, who won the race with Butch Miller. Hamlin would later win NASCAR Cup races with Dale Earnhardt and Robby Gordon.
Former All American 400 winner Chris Gabehart, who currently serves as the crew chief for Erik Jones in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, won the Snowball Derby with Jones in 2013.
Richie Wauters won with Steve Wallace in 2003 and Howie Lettow took the honors with Ted Musgrave in 1988.
A handful of successful Snowball Derby driver/crew chief combinations have gone on to experience additional success together. In additional to Gabehart and Jones, Ray Stonkus and Rick Crawford won the Derby together and later in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Some information about the history of crew chiefs at the Snowball Derby remains in the works. Feel free to email us at [email protected] with any information you may have about winning crew chiefs at the Snowball Derby.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com