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FYI WIRZ Fast Take   By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum    Images by Drum
 
Not NASCAR but Five Flags with Snowball Derby is the track that can

Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida has a distinction in racing that not many short tracks have across the U.S.—it has hosted a NASCAR race, albeit early in their history in 1953. The half-mile asphalt track opened for operation that year and is known for fast configuration.

NASCAR now has two half-mile tracks on their Sprint Cup circuit. Martinsville Speedway has 12-degree banking. Bristol Motor Speedway has 30 degree banking. Five Flags Speedway’s half-mile track has 15-degree banking.

Five Flags Speedway’s Snowball Derby has become a signature event considered by many as the most prestigious Late Model racing in the U.S. The popular early December racing days set in the panhandle of Florida generally welcome racers with comfortable and sunny weather.

Although Pensacola is in northern Florida, snowfall is very rare and not considered a risk to the Snowball Derby.

Early December brings a drop in humidity to the flat Florida terrain. An arctic push of frigid air that defines winter in northern states often weakens by the time it gets to the Gulf of Mexico bringing cool enjoyable days and nights to the region.

Snow may be covering many short tracks across the country Dec 1-4 during the Snowball Derby weekend when six divisions of Late Model racing converge for coveted trophies. The prime events are the 300-lap Snowball Derby and 100-lap Snowflake Derby.

Although it’s doubtful many snow blowers can be found in the region, jet dryers will be able to handle any rain or even a rare sprinkling of snow that often melts quickly.

Historically December receives some of the lowest monthly rainfall in Florida where summer months are saturated.

Many factors add up for the little track that can.

The prestigious four-day event going into 44-years of history has had many notable race car drivers in the field. Many went on to NASCAR careers.

Winners include Bobbie Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Ted Musgrave, Rick Crawford, Gary St. Amant, Steve Wallace, Clay Rogers, Kyle Busch and NCWTS female driver Johanna Long.

The little track that can—also has media coverage that works.

Speed51.com presented by JEGS.com, in its 10th consecutive year of coverage, will be the official news site of the Snowball Derby Weekend, November 30th through December 4th.

The short track website source www.Speed51.com is owned by Bob Dillner, NASCAR TV commentator for SPEED.

“There’s nothing like being at the Snowball Derby; the feeling that you get when you walk through the gate for each race day puts goose-bumps on your arms,” Dillner said. “We’ve had people from Canada, New England and all parts of the Midwest and the South tell us they’ve watched our coverage.”

More help has arrived for the little track that can.

Five Flags with its Snowball Derby has attracted NASCAR contingency sponsor and high performance parts icon in drag racing, JEGS.com.

Team JEGS fields a variety of race cars in NHRA with Jeg Coughlin Jr. coming back to Pro Stock in 2012 to join their stable of Pro Mod and Sportsman race cars. JEGS also fields a Late Model program with young 16-year old Cody son of co-owner John Coughlin.



Cody, winner of the Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year in the 2011 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour wouldn’t mind a longer season.

"I flat out don't want it to end,” Coughlin said. “It's been a great season and a bunch of fun. But next season will come pretty fast."

The Snowflake Derby isn’t next year, it’s next month, but Cody and team will competing in it to gain valuable seat time.

"I've learned a lot this year about being comfortable in the car, dealing with everything as a driver,” Coughlin said. “I'm excited about next year."

JEGS stepped up their sponsorship at Five Flags Speedway this year by boosting prize money for competitors. JEGS Laps consisting of $4,000 in bonus money goes to the leader of each lap at the Snowflake 100 and 300-lap Snowball Derby.

“We are racers and know what racers want,” said Scott “Woody” Woodruff, JEGS Director of Media. “JEGS is proud to bring additional excitement to the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100.”

“The JEGS name has been synonymous with racing for many years, said Tim Bryant, GM of Five Flags. “They stepped up circle track involvement.”

The winner of the Super Late Model event during the Snowball Derby will receive $22,500 without the JEGS bonus.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained from Five Flags Speedway, Speed51.com and JEGS.com.


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