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.
Today we take a look at the 2000s, a decade which featured a pair of disqualifications and a two-time winner.
If you’ve missed any of the earlier decades, you can catch up on them in the links below:
December 3, 2000
Pole Winner – Gary Helton (16.632 seconds)
Race Winner – Gary St. Amant – Second Derby win
Weather – Sunny with temperatures in the 50s
Special Note – Rich Bickle did not defend his consecutive Snowball Derby wins. It’s the only time in the race’s history when a driver in a quest for three straight wins did not race.
Gary St. Amant nursed a sick car from a 32nd starting spot to win the Snowball Derby for the second time in his career. Six different drivers led 30 or more laps with Eddie Mercer leading the most before finishing fourth. Veteran Jody Ridley would run the race for the final time and finished second.
December 2, 2001
Pole Winner – Scott Carlson (16.400 seconds)
Race Winner – Wayne Anderson
Weather – 70 degrees and sunny.
Special Note – Eddie Mercer was snake bit again and finished fourth after leading laps
Wayne Anderson came from a lap down to lead the final 30-plus laps and score his first win in the Snowball Derby. Anderson had future Derby winner Augie Grill calling the shots as a crew chief in the pits. For the second year in a row, no driver led more than 100 laps in the feature event. Johnny Henderson scored an upset second-place finish as Freddie Query was third.
Pole Winner – Jeremy Pate (16.349 seconds)
Race Winner – Rick Turner
Weather – Partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 60s.
Special Note – 144 laps in the race were run behind the pace car, setting a record that still stands today.
Ricky Turner came from the back, overcame crash damage and led the one lap that matter to win the Snowball Derby. The race was more like a demolition derby as the long day turned to night. Only 14 cars finished the race. Chris Davidson, who led at the white flag, finished fourth.
December 7, 2003
Pole Winner – Dave Mader III (17.013 seconds)
Race Winner – Charlie Bradberry
Weather – Sunny and 58 degrees.
Special Note – Gary St. Amant spun Bradberry out as they came across the line. St. Amant never led a lap in the race.
Charlie Bradberry came from the NASCAR banquet in New York and started at the rear of the field before winning the Snowball Derby. Kevin Cywinski led a race-high 207 laps, but was fourth at the checkered flag. Eddie Mercer was taken out in a crash on the first lap.
December 11, 2004
Pole Winner – Gary Helton (17.033 seconds)
Race Winner – Steve Wallace
Weather – Temperatures in the 50s and cooling at race time.
Special Note – Kevin Cywinski returned to lead 88 laps, but again was not a factor in the finish. He led 295 laps over a two-year span.
The race was delayed a week by rain before Steve Wallace gave car owner Richie Wauters his first Snowball Derby win. Wallace was consistently strong and led the most laps. He passed Wayne Anderson for the win with 17 laps to go. Eddie Mercer made it to second in the late stages to finish in the runner-up spot for the third time in his career.
December 4, 2005
Pole Winner – Eddie Mercer (17.061 seconds)
Race Winner – Eddie Mercer
Weather – Cloudy with temperatures in the mid 70s.
Special Note – Eddie Mercer is the last driver to win the Snowball Derby from the pole.
On his 17th attempt, local favorite Eddie Mercer finally wins the Snowball Derby. Mercer sat on the pole and led three times for 99 laps. Mercer got by Steve Wallace in the late stages and got the Snowball Derby monkey off his back. He became the first Pensacola driver in 32 years to win the race. After the race, he said in victory lane that his racing career was complete after winning the Snowball Derby.
December 3, 2006
Pole Winner – Johnny Brazier 16.918
Race Winner – Clay Rogers
Weather – Partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 60s.
Special Note – Not one driver in the top seven started the day in the top 10, in fact Steve Wallace came from 39th to post a second-place finish.
It was a night that Johnny Brazier would want to remember forever and in the end, it was a night he would want to forget the rest of his life. Brazier drove away from the field and scored the win on the track, only to be stripped of the victory in the tech line. The victory would have been placed in the hands of Bobby Gill who finished second, but another tech infraction backed the trophy up to the third-place finisher Clay Rogers. Despite leading only 14 laps and starting 27th, Rogers captured his first Snowball Derby.
December 2, 2007
Pole Winner – Cale Gale (16.982 seconds)
Race Winner – Augie Grill
Weather – Cloudy with temperatures in the mid 70s.
Special Note – Grill had front-end damage on his car, which reminded some of the Bickle years that he ran without a hood and/or fenders.
Several drivers were in the mix for this one as a young Matt Hawkins led the most laps, but got tangled up in a spin with Dave Mader III. That allowed Augie Grill to get away from the field late. Hawkins charged back to second, but ran out of time as Grill became the first driver to win as crew chief and a driver in different years.
December 7, 2008
Pole Winner – Grant Enfinger (16.629 seconds)
Race Winner – Augie Grill – Second Snowball Derby win
Weather – Temperatures in the mid 50s and Sunny
Special Note – Grill’s chances of back-to-back wins appeared to vanish when they lost several spots on the final pit stop. However, he came all the way back to score the victory.
Brian Ickler led the final 85 laps of the Snowball Derby and pulled into victory lane as the winner. The smiles went away in the tech line after brake blowers were found on the No. 15 machine. The DQ gave the win to Augie Grill who captured the race for a second-straight year. Grant Enfinger was second and Matt Hawkins was third before he passed away a few months later.
December 6, 2009
Pole Winner – Johanna Long (16.463 seconds)
Race Winner – Kyle Busch
Weather – Temperatures in the mid 50s with wind and mixed clouds.
Special Note – Augie Grill was going for three in a row and was strong early before getting taken out by a lapped car.
On a cold Pensacola day, Kyle Busch came back to town to cross the Snowball Derby off his bucket list. Several cars showed muscle early on, but at the end it was Busch beating out Eddie Mercer for the win. The race was void of a late-race caution that would have set up a big scramble to the finish as the last 30 or so laps were green.
-Text by Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent