When his white No. 11 Super Late Model came to a stop after a hard crash at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in February, veteran racer David Rogers knew he was in trouble. At that moment, the 63-year-old racer knew that his Florida Speedweeks was over. Luckily, his racing career wasn’t.
“My whole life has been racing. I plan my vacations and my weeks around the racing calendar. Being hurt right out of the gate was not a fun way to start 2018,” Rogers told Speed51.com.
Ultimately, the crash that night resulted in a broken wrist and broken sternum.
Many wondered if Rogers would hang up his helmet. After all, he had been involved in a number of crashes, including one in 2004 at Orlando that nearly took his life.
“The doctor told me that if I was younger he would have done surgery on my wrist,” Rogers explained. “I had to ask him, ‘What? Am I too old to be put to sleep to have surgery?’ He got a kick out of that, but he said it was going to be sore for a while. A lot gets that way when you have been racing for so many years.”
After recovering from the injuries suffered in the crash at New Smyrna, Rogers returned to the driver’s seat and picked up a victory at the track on September 29.
Now, his focus shifts to the biggest race of the year: the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL).
“The Derby is alway on my mind,” Rogers stated. “My guys look forward to this race, we all do as a team so we can run against the best cars. We talk about what we need to do to get better and faster. I love this too much to think about giving it up. Racing is what I do.”
In recent years, Rogers has been able to fall back on a provisional by being in the top 10 in the Blizzard Series points. This year, he missed the top 10 in points, making Friday’s pole night even more important.
“I have been thinking about that for several weeks,” Rogers admitted. “It’s almost the hardest thing to do; make the Snowball on time. The cars are so close and just a fraction of a second could send you home. I don’t consider myself a great qualifier. I’m a better racer. So if we have to we’ll try to race our way in this year.”
If the cards line up and Rogers makes the show, he will break the record for most starts in Snowball Derby history with what would be his 33rd. The current record is held by Red Farmer, who is still racing on dirt.
“Red (Farmer) was joking with me last year at the Derby saying even if you get to 33 you won’t break my record,” Rogers laughed. “He was quick to remind me that he ran 32 in a row starting with the first. Ether way, it’s hard to imagine that anyone will get up to where we are in starts.”
If Rogers enters the record books this weekend, it won’t bring him any closer to retirement.
“I’m not done yet,” Rogers added. “When I get tired of doing this then I will step away. What I know for sure is my next race is the Snowball Derby and hopefully we are racing Sunday.”
Race fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida will be able to see all of the unique paint schemes by watching Speed51.com’s live pay-per-view broadcast throughout the week. Five-day video tickets are currently available at a discounted price of $74.99 ($35 savings) by clicking here.
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: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com