For over 50 years now, the Snowball Derby has become one of the most revered events in not just short track Late Model racing, but in all of motorsports in North America. In the build up of the event’s tradition on the Florida Panhandle, it has given rise to another great event, a race run the night before the 300-lap Super Late Model race on Sunday at Five Flags Speedway.
That event is the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models.
The roots of the Snowflake 100 spread far throughout the decades of 1980’s and 1990’s, with separate local events of 50 to 100 laps being run for Late Models the Saturday of Derby weekend. Then in 1999, the first official iteration of the Snowflake was run as a 200-lap Super Late Model race… in October; a warmup event which would eventually become the season finale for the Five Flags Blizzard Series.
For the new millennium, the Snowflake took its now present spot on Saturday night less than 24 hours prior to the Derby itself. Originally staged as a separate opportunity for Super Late Model drivers to go for cash and a trophy, the Snowflake 100 shifted to its current format in 2005, with the rise of the Pro Late Model division.
Since then, the Snowflake 100 has become a great battleground for some of the youngest upcoming drivers to prove themselves against some of the best of the best, with many top drivers competing on Sunday for the Tom Dawson trophy. The race has also become a top stage for race teams that have made Pro Late Model racing their big stage.
While Late Model great Gary St. Amant, won that first Snowflake in October 1999, it was newcomer Hunter Robbins who took the first Pro Late Model contest in 2005.
Flash forward to 2010 and the Snowflake 100 saw another rising star celebrating in victory lane. That youngster later went on to secure his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2020. Yes, we’re talking about Chase Elliott, who added two more Snowflake wins and two Snowball Derby wins to his resume before reaching the sport’s highest level.
The past decade has seen some great races and drivers take that drive into victory lane, with short track veterans Augie Grill, Bubba Pollard, and Derek Thorn tasting victory. Other young guns including John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Purdy have also added Snowflake wins to their resumes before climbing the stock car ladder.
Now on Saturday, December 5 for the 22nd time, we will see who will be the next short track star to claim victory after 100 laps in Pensacola, Florida. If you can’t make it to Five Flags Speedway, you can watch from home on Speed51.TV.
More information on the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby can be found by visiting Snowball Central on Speed51.com.
The 53rd Annual Snowball Derby begins on Thursday, December 3, with the WCIParts.com Pro Trucks, the Dock of Pensacola Beach Sportsmen and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks competing in their feature events following the first rounds of practice for Super Late Model and Pro Late Model teams.
Friday, December 4 presents one of the most dramatic and intense days in short track racing, with Snowball Derby teams competing for a spot in Sunday’s race on Country Pleasin’ Sausage Pole Night. The Modifieds of Mayhem Tour 75-lap season finale follows qualifying.
Saturday, December 5 is an action-packed day of racing, featuring the Snowball Derby last chance race, the Snowflake 100 for Pro Late Models and a 50-lap feature for the Faith Chapel Outlaws.
Finally, Sunday, December 6 brings the most prestigious event in Super Late Model racing, the Snowball Derby. Pre-race festivities begin at noon, with driver introductions at 1:15 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., the Snowball Derby begins, starting the 300-lap battle to see who will take home the Tom Dawson Trophy.
The entire week of racing will be available to watch live on Speed51.TV’s pay-per-view broadcast.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51