Not even in his wildest dreams did Lewis Anderson ever imagine towing from Maine to the panhandle of Florida to race a Street Stock. But that’s exactly what the 45-year-old grassroots racer from Hollis, Maine is doing.
With his No. 81 Street Stock on an open trailer hooked to the back of a pickup truck, Anderson is currently headed south to Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway to compete in the 50-lap Sportsman feature on Thursday night of Snowball Derby week.
“We’ve joked about this for a number of years, going to different race tracks but I could never dream of being able to actually do it,” Anderson said Sunday morning. “It’s expensive and I figured I couldn’t afford that. I don’t have that kind of money, that’s why I race Street Stock at Beech Ridge.”
The joke started to become a reality in April when Anderson made the trip south to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for a Super Late Model race. He was sitting in the grandstands with veteran Super Late Model driver Scott Mulkern and Mainely Motorsports host Steve Perry when Mulkern made the comment, “Why don’t you take Lewis to the Derby?”
“All of a sudden at Hickory we got talking to a bunch of people and seeing if we could get some help. We started talking to people about it and the response was ‘I’m in. I’m in. I’m in.’ Holy smokes. We had a lot of people that wanted in on this project so we found out it was almost feasible to do it and we just kept working at it.”
Anderson, a regular competitor in the Wildcat division at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME), left his house at 11 p.m. ET Saturday night. As of 11 a.m. on Sunday morning he was already in Virginia turning heads on the highway with his Christmas-themed race car.
“Overnight it was too dark to even tell there was a race car on the back, and until an hour ago it was foggy and raining so people couldn’t really tell. Now people are really starting to take a look at it. It is 11 o’clock here and people are starting to look at it now. We’re following the trailer in an SUV. We have two vehicles, the SUV and the car towing the trailer, and we’re following them. We’ve seen all kinds of looks now.”
For three years now, Anderson has been making the trip south to the Snowball Derby with a group of Maine residents led by Perry. During his first visit to the Derby, he walked around the infield of the half-mile oval looking at the cars competing in the Sportsman feature. While looking over the cars, he realized that they weren’t much different than the Wildcat he races weekly.
“I was looking at it and I was like, ‘He’s got the same engine that I’ve got. He’s got the same rear link suspension I’ve got. He’s got no jacking bolts.’
“When this started to become a reality this summer, I messaged one of the guys on Facebook that races down there and we’ve been chatting back and forth all summer. He gave me pointers on setups and stuff, tires and everything. I really didn’t have to change a whole lot on my car, I just had to add a bunch of lead to it.”
Leading up to the big trip, Anderson received help from a number of people including Perry, Karl Fredrickson of Speedway Illustrated and other local businesses. Local fans also offered up money, gas cards and whatever they could to help “The Dirty Lew,” as the call him at Beech Ridge, make the trip.
But even once the financial aspect of the trip became feasible, the work didn’t end there.
“This has been a lot of stress until last night putting it all together,” Anderson explained. “We finally got the race car done and it got it scaled and loaded at like 10 o’clock last night. Trying to get money and all of that together and make sure that hotels are paid for and foods paid for, rental car and all of that stuff. All of a sudden you think you’ve got everything done and it’s like, ‘Oh, we forgot about this. Oh, we forgot about that.’”
Now that he’s on the road, Anderson said it’s all about having fun. He knows that this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so he’s not letting high expectations get in his way of having fun. A top-five or top-10 run are his goals on the track, but for the most part it’s all about enjoying the experience.
“I want to be battling for the win, but I don’t know what I even have right now. I haven’t even been on the track yet, so I’ll have to wait and see. We’ll have to see how we stack up. We’ve gotta have fun.”
As Anderson enjoys this once in a lifetime experience, he will have a huge group of supporters both at the race track and back at home in Maine. Many in his home state, even some of his fiercest rivals, have already purchased the Speed51 TV package to watch “Lewis” on Thursday night, December 3.
“When you think about it that way, it’s kind of unreal,” he admitted. “I race against these guys and some like me, some don’t. Even some that don’t like me, they’re saying they’re going to rent the package from Speed51. It’s going to be a good show for those watching on Speed51 TV.”
Race fans can order their live Speed51 TV online video ticket today by clicking here.
The 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off with the Cat Country/WEAR-TV3 Green Flag Party on Wednesday, December 2. On-track activities start Thursday, December 3, for the opening practice rounds for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models. The Five Flags Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and Beef ‘O’Brady’s Sportsman divisions will also have feature events on Snowball Derby Thursday.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 4 during WXBM 102.7 Pole Night at Five Flags. The Five Flags Faith Chapel Super Stocks and Modifieds will also battle in their Snowball Derby features after Super Late Model qualifying.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 takes center stage on Saturday, December 5 as the top Pro Late Model racers in the country qualify and battle for 100 laps at Five Flags. In addition, Saturday’s action features the final 50-lap qualifying event for Snowball Derby drivers to make one last effort to qualify for the 300-lap Super Late Model race. The Better Built Tool Box Pro Trucks will also have a 50-lap feature on Snowball Derby Saturday.
Then on Sunday, December 6, the green flag will drop on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at 2 p.m. CT at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
Fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida for the Snowball Derby can watch all of the action through a live online TV style pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51 TV. A four-day video ticket can be purchased now for $59.99 allowing fans to watch all of the action from Five Flags Speedway. Single-day video tickets are also available. Visit Speed51.com for more information.
For more information on the 48th 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 Matt Kentfield at [email protected] and/or Pat Bryant at [email protected]
For more information on Speed51.com and the rest of the 51 Companies, contact Jana Wimmer (Director of Business) at 51 Sports via email through [email protected] and visit Speed51.com. Speed51.com is on Twitter at @speed51dotcom and on Facebook by searching Speed51.com.
-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release. Photo credit: Lewis Anderson