One year ago, veteran race car driver Dennis Schoenfeld was forced to miss his favorite race of the season due to a catastrophic injury. Schoenfeld of Van Buren, AL was involved in a highway crash and suffered a broken tibia, taking away his chance to compete in the 49th annual Snowball Derby. Nearly a year has passed since that accident and the 50-year-old racer is now looking forward to returning to Five Flags Speedway (FL) for the 50th Annual Snowball Derby on Sunday, December 3.
Although it’s been nearly a year since the accident, Schoenfeld still struggles from time to time due to the injuries he suffered.
Everything seems to be pointing in the right direction as far as his health goes, but getting back into shape was an adjustment for him. Since the accident, working on the car hasn’t been as easy as it used to be as he experiences some difficulty getting up and down.
After being forced to the sidelines for last year’s Snowball Derby, Schoenfeld is very excited to be able to test his luck by returning for the 50th running of the prestigious race.
“It’s going to be fun,” Schoenfeld said. “I’m 50 years old and the Derby is 50 years old now. Any of these kids, they could run a marathon, they’re 20 years old. When you get up to 50 years old, you need to get ready to roll. Racing is like a sprint race; you never get relaxed. You gotta run it until the wheels are smoking and the tires are smoking.”
Leading up to the Snowball Derby, Schoenfeld has made a total of seven starts across two different divisions – the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the Southern Super Series – this season. He has experienced some ups and downs throughout the year, but a strong qualifying effort at another Super Late Model crown jewel, the All American 400 at Nashville (TN), has him confident entering the Derby.
Although he is confident, that doesn’t mean that he and every other driver attempting to qualify won’t be nervous when thinking about Friday night’s all-important qualifying.
“I’ll think about qualifying into the Derby and it just sends a tremor through your body or something through your stomach,” Schoenfeld said. “Every time you think about qualifying it ends some message through your brain. The most troubling part about this whole week is being inside the top 30 in qualifying. If you’re inside the top 30, you can sleep Friday night.”
Schoenfeld has plenty of experience competing in the Snowball Derby as he has made the haul to compete in the race eight times since 2008. He has qualified for the race on three of those occasions. He recorded a career-best finish of 10th in 2010 and has finished in the top 15 in all three of his starts.
With one year of excitement building up for his return to the Snowball Derby, Schoenfeld is hoping to find some success and have some fun in his return to the race.
Schoenfeld will join a stout field of Super Late Model drivers at Five Flags Speedway during the race weekend of November 29 – December 3. More information on the 50th Annual Snowball Derby can be found by visiting www.5flagsspeedway.com.
-By Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com