The Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) has always been known as a race that brings together the best Late Model racers in the country. Racers from the Deep South, upper Southeast, the Midwest, West Coast and beyond make their way to Pensacola, Florida each December to test their luck against the best of the best.
The 49th Annual Snowball Derby in December will see one of the strongest contingents of West Coast drivers ever heading towards Five Flags Speedway. Included in that list is 2015 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion Jacob Gomes.
While many drivers have switched their focus to the Derby or will be soon, Gomes, of Manteca, CA, will have to wait a bit longer with the Southwest Tour’s season finale scheduled for November 19 in Las Vegas. Luckily, Gomes will still get plenty of track time at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, despite missing the Snowball Preview scheduled for that same day.
“It’s been good, we’ve had a lot of top fives, just raced last week at Kern County and got third. We’re just working on our new car packages, getting ready for the Derby,” Gomes told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I’m going to run the finale in Vegas and then I got a test date the week of the Derby. If we didn’t get a test date, we weren’t going to go to the finale but we got everything lined up, so we’re going to go for it.”
Gomes will be attempting to make his first start in the Derby this season, but this is not his first trip to the Gulf Coast in December with a Super Late Model. Gomes attempted to qualify in 2014 and failed to make the show. While he is very determined, he heads east with without revenge on the race as an objective.
“I don’t know if it’s for revenge; I had never been to the track before. We had a new crew chief and we had a car I had never driven before,” Gomes explained. “We had a lot of things going against us getting there. I didn’t really feel who we had helping us there really helped because later on when we got the car back we did a lot better with it. We got a good guy going with us this year, we built a brand new car with their team and it should be good.”
Despite his first appearance being as rough as can be, Gomes is a big fan of Five Flags itself, especially because he does not have anything else like it to race on in his neck of the woods.
“I like the track. It’s fast, it’s big. I like the high-banks, you can really sail it into the corner, feels like you got a lot of rolling speed,” he said. “It’s a big momentum track, I really enjoy it. It’s not like a lot of tracks on the West Coast that are bullrings.”
This is also not the first time for Gomes at Five Flags this season, he had qualified for the final Blizzard Series event in September, but once again a rough start doomed his evening.
“We did try to race a Blizzard race but I ended up breaking the rear end at the start of the race and it was a downhill slide.”
Gomes remains confident that they will be able to put their troubles behind them and represent the West strong along with his fellow drivers.
“I’m excited. Derek (Thorn) is going, there’s a couple of guys from up north that we have that are. It should be real good.”
The 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, November 30 with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Green Flag Pit Party and Qualifying Order Draw Down.
Thursday, December 1 will see the Super Late Models take to the track for the first official Snowball Derby practice. The night will be highlighted by a 30-lap race for the Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and a 50-lap event for the Dock on the Beach Sportsmen division.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 2 during NASH FM 102.7 Pole Night. The Faith Chapel Super Stocks and the Modifieds will each run 50-lap features.
The Pro Late Models take center stage on Saturday, December 3 for the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100. The 50-lap Last Chance Qualifier for the Snowball Derby and a 50-lap feature for the Beef O’Brady’s Pro Truck division will also run on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday, December 4 the green flag will fly over the the 49th Annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race will begin at 2 p.m. CT.
For more information on the 49th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Pat Bryant at [email protected]
For entry lists, news, videos and all things Snowball Derby related, head to Snowball Central presented by Shaeffer’s Lubricants on Speed51.com, the official news source of the 49th Annual Snowball Derby. Affordable advertising rates are available now by emailing [email protected]
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Roger Seymour Photography