Cole Butcher learned a lot in his first Snowball Derby attempt last year. Now, with that learning experience under his belt, he’s ready for an all-out attack at Super Late Model racing’s biggest prize.
Butcher, a two-time Pro Stock Tour champion from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, has once again teamed up with veteran racer Donnie Wilson and Wilson Motorsports for the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.
After learning about what it takes to be around at the end and what it takes to be competitive in the prestigious race, the 22-year-old member of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program is ready to showcase his skills to the short track racing world.
“Being in the race last year with the 300 laps, you know what’s going to happen and the way the cards are going to fall,” Butcher told Speed51.com. “I learned a lot about how the race goes, how people race, when to go and when to hold back. The first year is pretty much a write-off when you’re just learning everything. We’ll be looking forward to this year working with the guys at Wilson Motorsports. I feel like we’re going to have a really good chance.”
One year ago, the Butcher-Wilson combination produced a 15th-place effort in Butcher’s first attempt at the Snowball Derby. The year before that, Butcher piloted a Wilson car to a sixth-place finish in the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Model race.
Teaming up with Wilson Motorsports has been a win-win situation for Butcher thus far. Although he believes his own team would eventually be capable of performing well at the Snowball Derby, teaming up with Wilson has allowed him to immediately put much of his focus on his work behind the wheel.
“In a way it kind of saves you three years of work,” Butcher stated. “If I were to bring my own car down, which is a Taylor car (Distance Chassis), I know they’re capable of racing in the southern area but you have to do your homework and everything. Going down with Wilson Motorsports save us time because they have experience and Donnie has been around forever. It saves you time and gives you another person to go to for suggestions and whatnot. It saves us a lot of time in that aspect so I’m able to focus on getting my line correct and doing what I have to do in the driver’s seat.”
Butcher planned to pilot one of Wilson’s cars during the recently scheduled All American 400 at Nashville (TN); however, that race was postponed until April 2019. Despite not getting to compete in the race itself, the time behind the wheel during practice and qualifying was valuable to Butcher, who hasn’t competed in a race since September 22.
“I haven’t raced since the Mike Stevens Memorial race at Petty (International Raceway),” Butcher said. “It was good to get back in the car and get the feel of things. We’ll go down to Pensacola in a couple weeks to test.”
After making the trip south to Pensacola, Florida the last two years, Butcher is looking forward to once again experiencing the spectacle that is the Snowball Derby. Thus far, his biggest takeaway from the event is the passion and excitement from the fans.
“There are people in the grandstands Wednesday just watching us park our haulers. You don’t see that at very many places,” Butcher said. “The fans are looking forward to the event and as soon as the gates open they are there no matter what day it is.”
Butcher is hoping to showcase his talents to those fans while representing the Maritime region in the event.
“You see some guys when you go down there and tell them you’re from Canada. They say, ‘Well, where do you race at with all the ice?’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I tell them I race PASS and we do just as well down there as we do with the Maritime Tour. Maybe we can’t afford to do all these other races, which is unfortunate, but we have a lot of great talent up there that is just as good as southern talent or maybe even better if they were able to get the chance to race.”
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 Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com