The list of Snowball Derby champions boasts some of the best drivers to ever compete in short track racing. However, behind many of those names was a crew chief, helping guide the driver to victory in the biggest race of the year. Here, we take a look at some of the most successful crew chiefs in the signature annual event at Five Flags Speedway.
10) Buddy Parrott – Back in 1976, Parrott was on top of the box for Darrell Waltrip at the Snowball Derby before going on to win 21 races with DW in the NASCAR Cup Series. Additionally, Parrott was crew chief for Richard Petty’s 200th win at Daytona in 1984, as well as 20-plus victories with Rusty Wallace and Jeff Burton.
9) Larry MacReynolds – In 1978 McReynolds was crew chief for a young Dave Mader, III as he scored the win over Mark Martin in that year’s Snowball Derby. McReynolds would go on to successful NASCAR career, highlighted by his time with Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt in the 1990s.
8 ) Kevin Hamlin – In 1987, Butch Miller won the Snowball Derby and the man on the box was later a proven crew chief with Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick. That man was Kevin Hamlin, who captured one of his first big wins at the Derby.
7) David Ray and Jimmy Wainwright – This is a special pair because of all that happened to the winner. Eddie Mercer tried for 17 years, and in his 17th year David Ray and Jimmy Wainwright were the duo to lead Mercer to victory after three second-place finishes.
6) Augie Grill – The main reason he’s on our list is because he’s one of two drivers to win the race from the pit box and from the driver seat. Grill has also been in the pits for several other Snowball wins with his father, but none of those were in an official crew chief role.
5) Phil Hamrack – According to Rick Bickle, Phil Hamrack was the man who called the shots for Bickle’s first two Snowball Derby victories.
4) The Driver – We have to give a call to the drivers who called the shots from the car in the earlier days. Even up into the 1990s, Bobby Gill and Rich Bickle Jr. claimed to be the crew chief from the seat. Kudos to them and all the drivers who made it happen from inside the car. Also, a tip of the cap to those who helped get those cars to victory lane with free tires and fuel. There are a lot of them, and they have untold stories of the Snowball Derby.
3) Ray Stonkus – Before Frankie Grill and Grand American Race Cars were the select brand at the Snowball Derby for several years, there was one guy who had a hand in several Snowball wins. Most notably, Rick Crawford and Mickey Gibbs saw Snowball glory with Stonkus calling or aiding in the shots. Gary Balough mentions Stonkus on several occasions in his book, but not so much in the Snowball Derby.
2) Ricky Turner – Turner’s legacy continues to grow as he is a former winner as a driver and a crew cheif for Chase Elliott in 2011 and 2015. He also guided Jake Garcia to a second-place finsh a year ago in the Snowball Derby. No matter who he’s with, he’s a contender. His average finish as a crew chief since 2015 is 4.2.
1) Frankie Grill – The late Frankie Grill’s greatest moments were watching his son Augie Grill win back-to-back Snowball Derby in 2007 and 2008. However, that only scratches the surface of his Snowball Derby impact. He was always around with his own Grand American Race Cars, and in 1984 he was the crew chief for Butch Lindley’s Snowball win. GARC race cars won 11 Snowball Derby races and Grill had a finger on each and everyone one of them.
Note: The information in this article comes from driver and officials accounts. We have gathered information on this topic to the best of our ability. If you have information that can be beneficial to us, please share it with Speed51.com.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com