The talk of the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby has been the star power descending upon Five Flags Speedway for the biggest Super Late Model race of the year. Along with the standouts of the short track racing world, the likes of NASCAR champions Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott are also part of this year’s event.
That has added extra energy to this year’s Snowball Derby festivities, which officially kicked off Wednesday with hauler parking and the first passes through technical inspection. For drivers making their first appearance at the marquee event, it has added even more energy to this year’s event.
Kodie Conner is one of those Snowball Derby rookies, making the trip from North Carolina for the event. Even without a single race car taking to the half-mile track, he was in awe at the number of entries surrounding him.
“There’s a lot going on,” Conner told Speed51. “We’re stall number 77, and I look around and there’s up to – I can’t even count that high. It’s crazy. This is the best of the best. There are so many haulers, so many cars. There’s a lot of great drivers. It’s a real good judgement to see what I have compared to everybody else.”
Conner knows that the level of competition at this year’s event will allow him to see where he stacks up against the best in the business.
“It’s pretty cool that I’ve got people that want to see me here at the Snowball Derby. This is the biggest race. It will help me see how I compare to everyone else. This is when everything is on the line. This is the race to see what you’ve got me.”
While most of the attention will be on the Snowball Derby, Wednesday’s hauler parking and technical inspection was also open to Allen Turner Snowflake 100 teams. Missouri’s Charlie Keeven will be taking part in the Pro Late Model crown jewel for the first time, and echoed Conner’s sentiments.
“I’ve never seen this many cars in one place. I’m just excited, really. There are so many astonishing guys here. I’m really excited to be here. I find this track very fun, when I came down here last time. With even more competition, I think It’ll be even better.”
Florida’s Daniel Dye took part in this event last year as a Pro Late Model competitor in the Snowflake 100. Now, he makes the jump to the Snowball Derby.
Dye enjoyed conflicting emotions on Wednesday, trying to stay relaxed while also being amazed at the level of competition surrounding him.
“Right now, I’m just chilling. It’s weird. I see all these Super Late Models that can win the race. I haven’t seen one that can’t win yet. Being one of 60 cars here and half the field will go home is pretty nerve-racking. Once everything gets going, I think we’re going to be pretty well off.
“I try not to worry about what everyone else is doing. Once you get distracted with what others are doing, you lose your focus. You can’t really ignore the fact that you have eight or nine past champions here. You’ve got Hocevar, who has kicked a ton of butt this year. You’ve got Cup champions, all kinds of stuff going on that you don’t see except this time of year.”
Race fans unable to attend the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby can watch the event live on Speed51.TV. Click here to order your Speed51.TV broadcast today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo