Fans will tell you how good Rich Bickle was at the Snowball Derby. They will tell you about the upset wins like Tammy Jo Kirk, the emotional wins like Eddie Mercer, scoring mishaps and all the tall tales of the Derby.
David Rogers can not only backup those stores, but he can give you the details because he lived them as he was in the field for each of those Snowball Derby races. Rogers, who will once again attempt to qualify for the prestigious race held December 6 at Five Flags Speedway, is such a part of racing history in Pensacola, Florida that just one question proposed to him could keep him reminiscing for hours.
"Soaking tires was always a part of the Derby," said Rogers. "I remember when I first heard about it and I was like, ‘no way, why would you want a tire softer.’ Back then it was legal because no one knew what it was. A guy I knew from Jody Ridley's team sold me a set and said use these so you won't get lapped in the first part of the race. I felt like a hero with those thing.
"Years came and went and soaking tires became illegal, then you could do it to a certain point. Some still did it and teams would have to do them in the bathroom in the hotel and you couldn’t have anyone stay in that room due to the smell. It was an interesting part of the Derby year ago. You can't do anything like that anymore."
Rogers was told early on in his career he needed to win some races before he even thought about going to Pensacola to run the Snowball Derby. Rogers took that advice and won some races, a few championships and a bunch more races. During that run he became a regular at the Snowball Derby and now the white No. 11 with the TM Ranch sponsorship is a staple each and every year at the Derby.
"We came to race," said Rogers. "We wanted to be a part of the show. All our racing was done by that time of year and we just went to be a part of it. There were years where we knew we might have been at a disadvantage, but it was our end of the season thing."
2015 could mark a millstone year for Rogers. He heads to the Snowball Derby with 30 career starts in the race and one more will tie him with legendary driver Red Farmer for the most in the race’s 48-year history.
"To me it's impressive that we can tie the record," added Rogers. "I have been running the Derby longer then the kids I will be racing against and even some of their parents. Red has always been one of my heroes and I want to keep racing like he's been able to do."
Rogers admits he's not the best qualifier. He's not made the race on time since 2012, but he's logged sixth and ninth-place runs in two of the last four races. Thanks to Blizzard Series points Rogers is in line for one of the three provisional if he needs it. He was seventh in the standings which could be helpful if needed.
"My hardest part of Derby is making the race," said Rogers. "Friday night is the only time I get worried or nervous. A tenth of a second means so much and it could mean you going home. I like the race your way in, I'm better at that. However, we don't want to be in the last chance race if we can help it."
The 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off with the Cat Country/WEAR-TV3 Green Flag Party on Wednesday, December 2. On-track activities start Thursday, December 3, for the opening practice rounds for the Snowball Derby Super Late Models and Snowflake 100 Pro Late Models. The Five Flags Butler U-Pull-It Bombers and Beef ‘O’Brady’s Sportsman divisions will also have feature events on Snowball Derby Thursday.
The top Snowball Derby starting spots will be set on Friday, December 4 during WXBM 102.7 Pole Night at Five Flags. The Five Flags Faith Chapel Super Stocks and Modifieds will also battle in their Snowball Derby features after Super Late Model qualifying.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 takes center stage on Saturday, December 5 as the top Pro Late Model racers in the country qualify and battle for 100 laps at Five Flags. In addition, Saturday’s action features the final 50-lap qualifying event for Snowball Derby drivers to make one last effort to qualify for the 300-lap Super Late Model race. The Better Built Tool Box Pro Trucks will also have a 50-lap feature on Snowball Derby Saturday.
Then on Sunday, December 6, the green flag will drop on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby at 2 p.m. CT at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
Fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida for the Snowball Derby can watch all of the action through a live online TV style pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51 TV. A four-day video ticket can be purchased now for $59.99 allowing fans to watch all of the action from Five Flags Speedway. Single-day video tickets are also available. Visit Speed51.com for more information.
For more information on the 48th Annual Snowball Derby weekend at Five Flags Speedway, visit www.snowballderby.com. All media credential requests and inquiries for the Snowball Derby can be sent to Matt Kentfield at [email protected] and/or Pat Bryant at [email protected]
For more information on Speed51.com and the rest of the 51 Companies, contact Jana Wimmer (Director of Business) at 51 Sports via email through [email protected] and visit Speed51.com. Speed51.com is on Twitter at @speed51dotcom and on Facebook by searching Speed51.com.
-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release. Photo credit: Bruce Nuttleman/Speed51.com