The Snowball Derby has always been a part of life for Wayne Niedecken, Jr. The second-generation driver known simply as “Junior” has been coming to the Snowball Derby since its first running back in 1968. His father won that day and once again in 1970. Since then the Niedecken name has always been a part of the history at Five Flags Speedway and the Snowball Derby.
During the 2013 running of the Snowball Derby, Niedecken did not qualify for the fourth year in a row and he figured it was time for some changes. It was a tough decision, but he walked away from Super Late Model racing to re-learn the trade in the Pro Late Model class.
"I don't think I ever thought I couldn't drive," said Niedecken. "Just understanding the way the cars worked and apply that to our program had us lacking. We decided to run the Pro Late Model and get things figured out. "
This year he did get things figured out. He won races at Five Flags Speedway and nearby Mobile International Speedway (AL). In fact he won the Pro Late Model track championship at Mobile after winning seven times in nine races.
"We really hit on something last year at the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 and we have been building on that ever since," said Niedecken.
Niedecken started 35th and finished seventh in the Snowflake 100 last year. He would finish third in the points standings at Five Flags Speedway in 2015 and is considered one of the favorites for the Snowflake.
In conjunction with sponsor Fresh Coat Painting Done Right and cross-marketing partner the Blue Wahoos, Niedecken will run both races after his recent success. The partnership with Arob Performance has helped tremendously over the years to keep Niedecken up front.
"It feels good to be able to run for a shot at the Derby again," said Niedecken who will be looking to start the race for the 29th time in his career. "Old school drivers like myself have had to relearn the concept of the feel of the car. Nothing has changed about the balance, but just the way you can drive them. I know what it's suppose feel like or what I think it needs to feel like, but now you have to throw that out the window. It's hard to brake those habits and learn the right way."
Having been out of the seat for two years in the Super Late Model has Niedecken excited for his return to the track in that type of race car. The first goal is to get into the race, a feat he has not done since 2009. He finished eighth that season.
"I enjoy the horsepower," said Niedecken. "Alex Roberts and Gene Roberts will be in the pits helping me and Alex will be the crew chief. I've never had someone in the pits calling the shots. I have always done it from the seat. This will be a first for me and I think it's going to be fun."
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: Speed51.com