Second-generation drivers tend to run well at the Snowball Derby. Steve Wallace took home a victory after his dad tried for several years. Johanna Long did the same in 2010 when she won the race that her dad couldn't win for so many years. Chase Elliott won it twice after his dad Bill tried and failed to win twice at Five Flags Speedway.
Before all of those families, there was the Anderson family. First came Dick Anderson and then his son Wayne. Both have a history of success all around the south, especially in Florida, winning at nearly every stop along the way.
When it comes to the Derby, it was Dick’s bad luck and his son's fortune that got the family their own Tom Dawson trophy.
“My dad (Dick) had them covered one year back in 1979,” Wayne Anderson said. “They never had radios back in those days so it was had to get info to the driver. At one point he was in a lap by himself, but the yellows kept coming and the other guys got tires and blew by him.”
Not knowing where he was on the race track cost him the victory, and when he tried to stop cars from getting by him he ended up bending up the nose and hood on his race car. Dick didn’t know he was leading at the time and that's how things would go for the Anderson family for many years at the Snowball Derby.
“In 1986, I got a phone call from my dad at 5 p.m. on a Friday and he said we blew the engine up and I need you to go to Ft. Lauderdale and get another and bring it to Pensacola. I was like, 'that’s a long trip.'”
Wayne made the trip, the engine was delivered and his dad made the race, but he fell out after halfway.
A few years later, Wayne began running the race on a regular basis.
“We had some really awesome cars the first two years I ran with Frankie & Augie Grill,” Anderson stated. “I know there was some big money on the line those years including $50,000 in 2000. We led laps both times, but nothing came together for us to win it. I passed Scott Carlson one year and blew a motor.”
Then came 2001, when the chips lined up and Anderson took the family name to victory lane at the Snowball Derby.
“We didn’t have a winning car,” Anderson admitted. “We had a fifth or sixth-place car and made great work in the pits and that put us in position to win. That win meant a lot to me. If you look at the trophy case at my house the (Tom Dawson) trophy is right in the center of them all.”
His father was not at the track that day, but the two would return to run together as a team in 2004.
“One of my fondest memories was the year Steve Wallace won,” Anderson said. “I was passed with 18 to go for the win by Wallace. We should have won, but they had two reds in the last 25 laps and we went from first to fourth in the final laps. It was cool to run that well driving for my dad.”
In all, Wayne Anderson had eight starts at the Snowball Derby with the one win and two top-five runs. He led the race six times.
While Anderson won’t be making the trip to the Derby this year, he will watch the race on Speed51.com’s live broadcast. His son's Randy and Ricky are both racing and winning at the Late Model level.
Maybe someday a third-generation Anderson will try their hand at the Derby. But for now, Wayne has the family name in the Snowball Derby record books.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com