Wayne Anderson has seen all the highs and lows short track racing has to offer, reaching the peak in 2001 when he won the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL). The Florida veteran will return to the Pensacola half-mile this December, competing in the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100.
Anderson will be driving for Jonathan Brown, who has fielded cars for Michael House in recent years. Anderson tested the car last weekend and was pleased with how the test session played out.
“I went and tested Friday, and what an awesome race car he has,” said Anderson on Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” Monday. “The car tested well and everything. I’m really looking forward to the Snowball Derby weekend.”
It will be Anderson’s first time competing at Five Flags Speedway in more than a decade. The Wildwood, Florida native last entered the Snowball Derby in 2008, leading 27 laps during the event before a crash ended his day 95 laps shy of the finish.
For most of the time he has been away from Pensacola, he has been growing a family powder-coating business, which allowed him to make a living away from the racing world at a time where it was becoming harder and harder to do so.
“About five years ago, racing in Florida was starting to die, and it was harder and harder to make a living,” explained Anderson. “An opportunity became available to purchase a powder-coating shop that was in foreclosure. I had never powder-coated anything in my life, but I took my wife and we went in there.
“Some friends helped me get up the money to buy it. IN the last five years, the business has been getting bigger and bigger every year, and it’s all family. It’s just my two kids, my wife and I. Something had to give. I felt like, at that point, I had spent over 20 years racing and had won almost everything there was to win in short track racing and I didn’t have anything for retirement.”
However, Anderson was quick to emphasize that time away from the race car has not faded.
“Desire? I have more desire and fire in my belly than I ever had. The only problem I have now is I’ve got to put Crisco on my firesuit to squeeze me into these race cars. I’ve probably gained 50 pounds since I was racing. To get down in these race cars, I woke up Sunday morning and I could hardly move. But I love racing, I want to race. I just don’t want to go at it like I had in the past.”
Anderson will carry that desire to the site of his biggest win, the 2001 Snowball Derby. As important as the win was at the time, it has grown in stature since then as the prestige of the race has increased.
“I was very grateful of it,” said Anderson of the win. Like I’ve said before, that place has been such a roller coaster, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I’ve seen so many good racers win there. At the same time, I’ve seen them have real bad luck.
“I felt like the years prior, 1999 and 2000, I felt like I should have won it then and I didn’t. When I didn’t have the best race car, I ended up winning it. It was a great time in my life, and when you look back on it now, it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but with how big the Derby has become, it’s a pretty big deal.”
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 will take place on Saturday, December 7 as part of an action-packed day of racing at Five Flags Speedway. Individual video tickets are available for each day of racing; however, a four-day early bird video ticket offers a total savings of $38.
Fans who missed Anderson's interview can click here to see an on-demand replay of “The Morning Bullring.” The show traditionally airs at 7 a.m. ET on Speed51 and Speed51’s Facebook Feed presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies, but will take a Thanksgiving break next week, returning for an on-location episode at Five Flags Speedway (FL) on Monday, December 2 in the build-up to the Snowball Derby. Stay tuned for more details of that episode.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo