Race fans that pay attention to details will likely notice something different at Five Flags Speedway when racing resumes this Friday night. Speedway operator Tim Bryant recently confirmed to Speed51 that a change has been made to the appearance of the race track.
Longtime race fans at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida will tell you about the days when the track had no outside retaining walls around the turns and backstretch. From the time the track opened until 1993, the only things that would slow cars down in some cases were trees on the backstretch and turn three areas.
In 1994, the outside retaining walls were added and the complexion of races changed with it. The wall project took all winter to complete and started the day after the 1993 Snowball Derby.
Some of the more famous parts of the track include the painted letters on the wall. Pensacola USA appears in the turns, and Five Flags Speedway appears on the straightaways. Fans often get their picture taken near these track landmarks during Snowball Derby week.
In 1995 at the Snowball Derby, the letters Five Flags Speedway were painted in red for the final race of the season.
At some point over the next few years, the letters migrated to black lettering for the history walls. A look back through historical photos showed that the lettering has been black since at least the turn of the century.
Now, when drivers and fans return to action in 2020, they will notice a change which will be a throwback to early days of the walls.
The letters “Five Flags Speedway” will once again be in red much like the early days of the wall.
“We wanted to make the change and we didn’t think anyone would notice right away, but fans and drivers notice all the details,” Bryant told Speed51.
In addition to the walls, a local artist has rendered a mural that has some of the track's history built into it. The work of art features flags with four Pensacola natives who have won the Snowball Derby, as well as NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt looking down from above. Earnhardt himself competed in the Snowball Derby during the 70s.
“Tool Expo, a local company brought in Ronsen Stewart, a local artist, to pay tribute to the Snowball Derby,” Bryant stated. “In addition to honoring the local winners, it honors Rich Bickle, the only five-time winner of the Snowball Derby.“
The Pensacola USA writing remains the same with the traditional off-season updates.
Racing is set to resume this weekend at Five Flags Speedway with Outlaws, Pro Trucks, Sportsmen and Pure Stock divisions. The race will be limited to 1500 fans due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.
Fans unable to attend in person will be able to watch a live pay-per-view broadcast for $9.99. Video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Brannon Earnest