Derek Thorn has won a lot of races. He’s won championships. Whether it’s a Late Model race or a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race, he’s a contender. But Thorn hasn’t won the Snowball Derby yet.
Granted, Thorn has only made two starts in the Snowball Derby, but it’s a win he desperately wants to have. It’s a win every driver desperately wants to have. It’s the Snowball Derby. It’s the biggest event there is in short track racing.
“I think it would be unbelievable almost,” said Thorn. “It’d be shell-shocking to go back there and win the race as our first race as a team there.”
Thorn is heading to Pensacola, FL with his Campbell Motorsports team that he races with on the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour. He and that team have run together for much of the last four years, but they’ve never gone to the Derby together before.
“It’s like a giant family,” said Thorn. “Not only is it fun to go run up front at a race track, but we all get along so well together it makes it just more fun. The Derby is about as much of an experience as it is racing itself so it will be fun to go back to experience that with them and take it in.
“I’m trying to leave it for them to experience it for themselves. I think they’re kind of anticipating something really cool, but I think each person will take something different away from it.”
Hopefully, for their sake, they’re taking the Tom Dawson trophy back to the West Coast.
“I know as a team we all want to go there to win,” he said. “That is definitely our common goal. Of course that’s everybody’s goal, but the most realistic approach is to take it one day at a time. We’ve got our ducks in a row and have everything in place to go there to contend for a win.”
Thorn and this team won four races on the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour this year. He feels that his team is as strong as it gets.
“Mike Keen is the one that heads up that operation,” said Thorn. “I think everyone on the team works well together but it’s been fun working with Mike. He’s one of the most thorough, knowledgeable guys I’ve ever been around. He’s always put me in equipment that is great. It’s good to have people like that on the team. It gives me the confidence that whatever problems we may face that we can work through them.”
Thorn will also have a strong pit crew working on his car for the week. Matt Crafton’s ThorSport Racing pit crew will be working with him at Five Flags Speedway. They know how to win. They helped Crafton win a championship in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013 and they’re in position to win a second straight championship this season.
The toughest part about Snowball Derby week for Thorn stems from his location. Thorn is from Lakeport, CA, about 2,532 miles away from Five Flags Speedway. That limits the amount of testing and racing Thorn is able to do at Five Flags. Pretty much the only time Thorn gets to race there is for the Snowball Derby.
“We can’t even think about testing for the Derby on the West Coast,” said Thorn. “It’s probably one of the most unique facilities I’ve ever been to. It’s one of those things where we’re always trying to play catch up. We have two or three days to get used to the tire, get used to the track and get used to the cars to make the most of it.”
-51 Sports/Snowball Derby Press Release. Photo Credit: SRL Photo