The Snowball Derby has long established itself as a premier event for full-bodied Late Model racing for the last half-century. For two decades now, Modified drivers have found their place on the Derby schedule at Five Flags Speedway, seeking their own glory.
In 2015, Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) General Manager Stan Narrison helped establish the Modifieds of Mayhem Tour, bolstering Modified racing in the Gulf Coast region at a number of tracks including Montgomery and Five Flags.
The past few years, the rivalries on the Mayhem Tour have carried over to the Modified portion of the Derby, bolstering the race even further and bringing an increase in competition. This led to an increased purse and extended race distance last year.
Now in 2018, the Modifieds of Mayhem Tour will be a part of the Snowball Derby for the first time, with the 75-lap race on Friday, November 30 serving as the Tour’s season finale, adding a whole new layer to what has become one of the most popular events of Derby weekend.
It is set to become a race that both Narrison and Five Flags Speedway owner Tim Bryant believe will have fans talking like never before.
“It really floored me the day Tim approached me. We both have a commitment to open-wheel racing, and he’s trying to help me to do everything we can to promote this,” Narrison told Speed51.com. “For us to be the only sanctioned event in the Snowball Derby Weekend is pretty incredible. It’s just a great opportunity that night to be the feature division out in front of everybody, being the show to help start off the weekend.”
While the turnout of Modifieds for the Snowball Derby Preview this past Saturday was on the light side, Narrison is sure that will be the opposite come Derby time, with multiple practice sessions on tap for race day and teams trying to keep their cars in tip-top condition.
Points leader Zach Knowles needs only a solid effort in the Friday competition to take the season title, but Narrison believes the team will have to race hard in order to cap their year with his first Derby win.
“It’s nice to see some of the cars that folks have built just to be a part of the Derby,” he stated. “It is going to be an interesting field. With this being the last Cup event, we’re really excited. We’re excited with Zach Knowles and what he’s been able to do this year in his Modified. It will be great to crown a champion there; those guys driving all the way from Houston is pretty exciting.”
Since May, former Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 winner Augie Grill has established himself as the dominant force, winning five of the last six races on the Mayhem Tour. As the defending Modified winner at the Derby, Narrison is pegging the Alabama driver as an early favorite.
“Augie has been on a roll on the Tour. I told him that I should make him drive with one eye covered one of these races. Augie is a really experienced racer, he knows his stuff, driving one of those BMF chassis for John Hile; it’s a good package for him. Plus, when he’s on a roll, it’s hard to defeat him.”
As for challengers, Narrison is looking to drivers such as Kyle Purvis, who set fast time at the Snowball Derby Preview, and perhaps some of Grill’s fellow Late Model drivers, should they secure rides in the next week.
“Kyle Purvis was there this past weekend, he’s always fast, he won at Bristol this year when we were there coming from 12th. There’s a lot of different people coming in, there’s talk of more Late Model guys looking for Modified rides. It could be very interesting when we go racing for 75 laps.”
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: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com