For Super Late Model racers, the most intense and nerve-racking moment of the short track racing season is Snowball Derby qualifying night. One year ago, Preston Peltier and his Generator Source team made it look easy by capturing the pole for the 50th Annual Snowball Derby. One year later, the team is heading back to Five Flags Speedway and hoping to win “both races.”
“There are two races during Derby Week, the race for qualifying and the Derby itself. You’re so nervous for qualifying, it’s insane how much pressure and preparation is put into qualifying,” Peltier told Speed51.com. “I feel like everybody gets nervous on Friday night, including the fans watching.”
The Fort Collins, Colorado driver debuted a brand new Hamke chassis last year at the Derby, since that race the car has put together an impressive six race resume including three wins at the Summer Showdown, Easter Bunny 150 and Spud 150.
“Our level of preparation is better than ever before. Last year, we didn’t have any races on the new car; now we do and that’s where we missed the most. You learn so much after just one race on the car,” Peltier said.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby might be a little more special for Peltier this year. His longtime car builder and “second dad” Robert Hamke is planning to retire from the business. Peltier would love to get a Derby win for Hamke.
“As long as I’ve ever raced, I’ve never strapped into anything but a Hamke,” Peltier stated. “Robert is like a second dad to me. He’s at a point in his life to retire and enjoy it. We would love to get him that final win.”
With Peltier’s team being 2,000 miles away from Pensacola, Florida, the journey to Five Flags Speedway will be a long one. However, it will be the Colorado driver himself behind the wheel for the 24-hour journey.
“I enjoy driving the hauler. It’s gives me time to think and reflect,” he said. “On the way there, I might think about a new idea or something to try on the car and get mentally prepared. On the way home, it gives me 24 hours to think I would have, could have, should have.”
Over the past few years, Peltier has added another side to his racing perspective: the family side. He’s embraced having his daughter at the track, including when he wrote her name (Jocelyn) on his $25,000 Summer Showdown winner’s check.
“This whole deal is a family sport,” he began. “You see Bubba (Pollard), Logan (Boyett) and many other drivers with their kids in the pits. Just a family deal with a vacation to the derby. Win, lose or draw, I’m just happy to have them there.”
The team he races for now carries that same theme.
“Ed and Eddie Vecharelli are amazing guys that give me all the support that we need in order to race at the level that we are now. Without them and the team at Generator Source, we wouldn’t be winning the big races like we’ve been doing.”
As Peltier and him his team close in on the Snowball Derby, they reflect on their early exit from last year’s race after being involved in a wreck after the first round of pit stops.
Overall, Peltier has four starts at the Snowball Derby with one top 10 and his best finish of seventh coming in 2015.
Peltier would love to win the race but knows that it can be more nerve racking after winning the race than during the race itself.
“Winning the race would be pretty special for me. The only thing is you really can’t celebrate the win until after tech. You spend so much time working on your car and preparing it to make sure it’s perfect. It just takes one wrong thing in tech and it’s taken all away.”
As the days draw closer, the level of excitement has risen to a new level as the team travels to Florida.
“If we only raced once a year, it would be the Snowball Derby. It’s the cream of the crop, the best of the best. We’re excited to get there and compete for the Snowball Derby.”
Race fans unable to attend the 51st Annual Snowball Derby in person will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast all week long on Speed51.com. Five-day video tickets can be purchased now for $74.99 ($35 savings) to watch all of the action. Click here to purchase your video ticket today.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-Story by: Jeremy Anders, Speed51.com West Coast Editor – Twitter: @Janders2115
-Photo credit: Speed51.com