The year of 2020 has seen many motorsports promoters try different ideas for running their programs in order to survive COVID-19; some of which have been welcomed by race teams and fans to stay into the future even once the threat of the virus has passed.
This past weekend saw Five Flags Speedway making an adjustment to the prestigious Snowball Derby, which has been welcomed by all. But, instead of being brought on by COVID-19, it was instead in response to short track racing’s oldest and most dastardly foe; bad weather.
Rain has impacted the Snowball Derby greatly in 2016, 2018, and 2019, and Five Flags track President Tim Bryant was determined to break the recent string of frustration. With rain threatening the late afternoon hours this past Sunday, the decision was made on Saturday to advance the start of the 300-lap Super Late Model race by one hour, from 2 p.m. CT to 1 p.m. CT.
Not only did it work to get the race in with time to spare before the precipitation arrived to Pensacola, Florida; but the schedule change was so well received that just three days removed from the 2020 edition, Bryant has decided to retain the 1 p.m. CT starting time for the 54th Annual Snowball Derby in 2021, and for years to come.
“This year it was done in caution of a forecast that we had seen on Saturday going into Sunday afternoon. But, we knew when we made that call it would be a good experiment for us to make sure we could get everything done on Sunday in a timely fashion. We’ve always wanted to figure out how to get people out a little earlier on Sunday after a long weekend,” Bryant told Speed51.
Already, the management at Five Flags Speedway has identified what will need to be tweaked on the weekend schedule prior to the main event on Sunday, December 5, 2021.
“We had to sacrifice a little bit of our prerace festivities, but we should be able to either move stuff that needs to be done to Saturday, or consolidate into a shorter time period on Sunday. Doing driver intros at 12:15, as opposed to 1:15, and go with the 1 p.m. start. As far as next year, that is the plan.”
The schedule adjustment is one that was welcomed by a vast majority of race teams and fans, who have already gotten their wish long before planning their return to the Florida Panhandle in 2021.
“I’m certainly glad for that, somewhere out there was someone who drove in Sunday that was in a bit of a bind as far as getting here on time. But, with a pretty good crowd this year, the traffic flow being what it was, most everybody was in place by 1 p.m.. We think given a plan from the outset that will be okay, and finishing the race in daylight hours is always preferred. The teams loading up and the people getting on their way home is going to be better.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51