Some people call him “The Dirty Lew.” Others call him “Bad Santa.” And now some people may call him “The Grinch.”
Lewis Anderson, a Street Stock racer from Hollis, Maine, will be making his second straight appearance in the Sportsman feature during Snowball Derby Week at Five Flags Speedway (FL). He will do so driving a No. 81 car with a theme of “The Grinch.”
“Until I won a championship this year, last year at the Snowball Derby was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car,” Anderson told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “In twenty-nine years of racing, that was definitely the most fun.”
Anderson began the journey to Pensacola, Florida from his Buxton, Maine shop on Sunday morning. He is expected to arrive at the track on Tuesday before preparing for the 50-lap race on Thursday night.
“The Dirty Lew” finished last year’s Snowball Derby Sportsman feature in the sixth position after battling within the top five late in the race.
“Mentally and physically we were prepared, I just didn’t have the right gear ratio in the car so we were off on speed,” Anderson explained. “I had chased them down from so far back because I had saved my tires. I had the wrong gear in it but I was still catching the front. I was behind fourth and inside of fifth when the caution came out with three laps to go. We easily had a top-five car last year, the cautions just didn’t fall right for us.”
Competing at the Snowball Derby with a group of his best friends and supporters by his side created a lifelong memory for Anderson. Throughout the week, he was treated like a rock star and even made the local newspapers next to the names Elliott and Nemechek. But there was one particular moment that stood out most for Anderson, and it was one that helped make his decision to return to the race much easier.
“We went to the race track Tuesday just to check it out, and we weren’t expecting anyone to notice us or anything like that. We pulled in right to the front gate and Tim the track owner hurdled two of the movable fences and comes running out to greet us,” Anderson said.
“You don’t see that everywhere. He heard about us coming, and obviously Steve (Perry) had him on the (Mainely Motorsports) show and all of that. We wheeled in there at like 10 o’clock in the morning just to check the place out and the track owner was hurdling fences to get out to the parking lot to see us.”
For his efforts to compete at the Snowball Derby, Anderson has received national attention on social media. That has resulted in even more support from fellow grassroots racers who want to see Anderson race during the biggest pavement race week of the year.
“Especially now because of Speed51 and Facebook, it has gone viral. We have even been on the news already in Florida on the Five Flags Speedway TV show,” Anderson stated. “There was a comment on my Facebook page about the strong following I have down in Florida. I’ve received money from Michigan, the Carolinas, from Florida and all over New England. It’s never a big check, but every bit helps.
“It helps a lot. I don’t know how much we’ve received this year because I’ve been busy with the car but we’ve received a lot of money. We’ve received food cards, gas cards, all of that is tremendous help.”
Racing at the Snowball Derby just once is something that Anderson never imagined would be possible for a 30-year veteran of the sport. But being able to do it for a second time is something that he isn’t taking for granted.
“I did not expect it to happen at all,” Anderson commented. “We all dream of going to races like that, and I never in 100 years expected to have that happen. At the Easter Bunny 150 race, Scott Mulkern and Steve Perry got talking to me and said if you’re in then I’m in. We went last year and it was like, ‘oh my god, we’re going.’
Following last year’s Snowball Derby, Anderson returned to Maine more prepared for the upcoming season than he’d ever been before. That preparation helped guide him to his first championship at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) after 29 years of trying.
With momentum and experience now on his side, he’s hoping to improve on his Snowball Derby performance and bring a trophy back to the Pine Tree State.
“I would like to think we could definitely get a top five, but I’d really like to get a top three and a trophy,” Anderson stated. It would be right up there for sure. The championship so far is the greatest because of 30 years of trying, but this would be big for sure.”
Race fans can watch “The Dirty Lew” Thursday night via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Click here for pricing and more information.
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 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]
Race fans unable to make their way to Pensacola, Florida during Snowball Derby week will be able to watch all of the racing action live on Speed51.com. Four-day video tickets are now available at a savings of $20. Visit Speed51.com today for more information.