The Snowball Derby is more than just a sizeable week of racing, it is a whole experience, and experiences are best shared. Many racing families have enjoyed that first week of December in Pensacola, Florida; many coming from far and near. Cole Butcher has come from far, Nova Scotia to be exact, and this year he is doing the same with younger brother Jarrett, who will make his Five Flags racing debut.
Both Butcher brothers will race for Donnie Wilson Racing, Cole going for his fourth Snowball Derby start in a Super Late Model, while Jarrett will attempt for his first Snowflake 100 in a Pro Late Model.
It will be a welcome change for the Butchers, who have been unable to race in the United States in 2020, while their home schedule on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour once chopped down to only two races; both because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Cole, he was able to win one of those races, the Jim Hallahan 250 at Soctia Speedway (NS); but other than that, 2020 has been barren of racing.
“I’m looking forward to getting out Nova Scotia, for sure. We weren’t able to get to the Oxford 250 this year, which was a shame. Pending our crossing the border on Thursday, we should be good to go. We have permission from the U.S. border officials, hopefully they keep their word, and we get across smoothly,” Cole Butcher told Speed51.
In his first three Snowball Derby appearances, many have tabbed Cole as a natural at Five Flags, with finishes of fifteenth, ninth, and then third last year, all while qualifying second the past two years. Butcher will be a part of a trio of drivers, along with Chandler Smith and Kayden Honeycutt, fielding Super Late Models for Donnie Wilson. Cole feels this could be the year he gets the Tom Dawson trophy.
“We’ve been pretty solid with our qualifying, I think we’re one of the favorites for the Pole Challenge. I’m not afraid to go to the back for another 25-grand. I’ve raced with Donnie Wilson the last four years or so, a couple of Top 5’s between PASS, Southern Super Series, and the Derby. We were good last year, finishing third, thought we had a chance at the end for us getting sent to the back for no reason. We’re pretty confident again, we got a couple of Supers being built, it should be cool.”
Before the big day on Sunday, December 6, the Kulwicki Driver Development Program alum will also be lending his knowledge to younger brother Jarrett, who will look to make the Snowflake 100 on Saturday, December 5.
“It’ll definitely be a challenge, we got four cars this year. We all got great crews working at the shop to get everything ready, no excuses for not being 100 percent. I know he’s excited, his first time racing at Pensacola. Myself, Donnie, Chandler, Kayden; we all have to be mentors to him, and show him how to get up on the wheel at that place. It’s a different animal to anything we got up here, you’ll either know it or you’re screwed.”
As for Jarrett Butcher, there is a great mix of feelings before heading south, but he’s doing his best to power through and do his homework.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time, it’s a big race, the whole event is incredible. We’re going to go test there the week before, so that’ll be a big help. I’ve been asking Cole a bunch of questions, he sent me a couple of videos of him in the car. He’ll be there to talk to the whole time,” Jarrett Butcher explained.
Showing consistency on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour the past few seasons, including a third-place points finish in 2019; Jarrett goes in grateful for the chance to not just race for Wilson, but also have the former Southern Super Series champion helping from the pits.
“Donnie has been in the sport a long time and he knows his way around Pensacola. For him to give me and opportunity is awesome. He’s a part of my crew for the Snowflake, he’ll be on the radio most of the time, him and Troy. It’s a lot of knowledge, I just need to pick it up, figure it out, and get some speed.”
While racing for 100 laps is nothing new for Jarrett Butcher, the ferocity of the pace of the racing is one thing that he is bracing himself for.
“The racing up here is pretty competitive, but down there you are 100 percent most of the time compared to what we are used to up here. That’s going to take some getting used to the first couple of laps of the race. Once we get going, we’ll be good, I know we’ll have a good car from Rowdy. My brother has always run well down there, it’s just down to me.”
Still ever the racer, Jarrett is also remaining realistic, with solid goal set for the great Pro Late Model race.
“Obviously, everyone goes to win down there, but personally a Top 10 would be good. I know it’s my first time down there and I got a lot to learn. But, I think if we can qualify good, which is also a big thing, and take what I learn, it’ll be a good experience.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51