course. Blizzard Series point leader Charlie Bradberry skipped Friday’s race to prepare for his USAR Hooters Pro Cup debut on Saturday in Kenly, NC. Second place points man Joey Senter had problems mid-race, so Mader was able to make up plenty of ground on the championship. The top-two Blizzard Series finishers earn guaranteed starting positions into the historic Snowball Derby at Five Flags in December.
“It’s been 28 years since I won the Snowball Derby (in 1978) and I’ve won a bunch of times here since then, but the last seven or eight years have been pretty dry for me here,” said Mader. “It’s cool to be living it now. It’s been a fantasy becoming a reality for many years to be able to keep doing this. My dad was one of the best racecar drivers that ever was and has been. I’m just very fortunate to have some of those genes.
“That’s why we’re here. Number one, I live in Mobile now but my car owner lives here, so we wanted to concentrate on these races (at Five Flags and Mobile), but the other reason is because I desperately want to win the Snowball Derby again.”
Hopefully again without folding chairs.
BLIZZARD SERIES TURNS INTO ROYAL RUMBLE By Matt Kentfield
Mader Comes Out On Top On Track and In Fights
All that Five Flags Speedway (FL) needed on Friday night was WWE ringside announcer Jim Ross in the press box. That way, when drivers and crews lost control of their emotions after the 100-lap Blizzard Series race, everything could’ve fit the Royal Rumble-like atmosphere in the infield.
Ross would have had a field day calling Casey Smith’s charge and swings at Dave Mader, III after the race as Mader walked from Victory Lane ceremonies to the tech area as the winner of Friday night’s race. Some pushing, shoving and punching ensued on pit road before peace was restored.
But it didn’t last long.
Near the post-race inspection area, members of several crews, most notably the Jeremy Pate and Scott Carlson teams, created a gigantic brawl that resulted in several people bloody or in handcuffs, escorted from the premises by the Police.
Now this is when the Titantron big-screen television monitors at those wrestling events shows flashbacks to what got everything to this point.
Late-race cautions forced the 22-car field to go into extra-distance mode. Blizzard Series rules state that the final five laps of an event must be run under green-flag conditions. A series of crashes forced a restart on lap 107 – a restart that ignited the post-race fracas.
Dave Mader, III climbs from his winning mount, just a few minutes before being caught in a pit road fracas. (51 Photos)
Texas-native Smith restarted in the lead with polesitter Augie Grill behind him and Mader third. Coming to the green flag, Grill got a jump on Smith and shot to the inside going into the first turn. Smith blocked Grill, forcing Grill slightly into the inside retaining wall. Grill took another run under Smith going into the third turn and had a fender inside when Mader made it three wide. Mader’s move forced Grill into Smith and Smith ended up slamming into the outside wall hard between the third and fourth turns.
Grill had to back out of the throttle to avoid hitting Smith even more, allowing Mader to take the lead. When the green flag came back out, Mader got a big jump on Grill and cruised to victory.
Everything seemed to be fine after the race. Mader did his Victory Lane speech to the crowd, Grill joined Mader and Carlson on the podium while Smith stewed in his trailer. As Mader walked back to his trailer from Victory Lane, Smith, who later admitted that he was furious at Mader for making the three-wide move that cost him the race, bolted from his trailer and pounced on Mader and his crew. A pig-pile of crew members were laying in the middle of pit road. Both Smith and Mader were pulled off of the heap, but neither was afraid to do some trash talking about the other.
“Mader is a dirty driver,” said Smith. “He wrecks everybody out there. Augie got me on the restart and jumped under me at the start-finish line. I outran him off the corner. He got back under me and Mader made it three wide going into three and wrecked me and ruined my car. We had the car to win. Mader just wrecks everybody like that but you know what? We race tomorrow night (Saturday at Mobile International Speedway). We’ve got another car in the trailer and he’s going in the ditch.
“When someone wrecks you like that it’s frustrating. He’s an old sumbitch. He’s a never-has been, a never-will-be, but tomorrow night he’s going to find out what it’s going to be like.”
Keeping up the WWE-like atmosphere, Mader responded to Smith’s accusations and accepted Smith’s challenge.
“Smith came down here and was mouthing off that I wrecked him,” said Mader. “There’s not a tire mark on my car anywhere. That’s ridiculous. That’s just being a very, very sore loser. Don’t race if you can’t take getting beat.”
“That’s good (that Smith vowed revenge). We’re in my home now (at Mobile). Let’s do it. I build racecars and I can build them just as fast as he can wreck them.”
Everyone in the infield could sense that the Smith/Mader bout was just the undercard match for something bigger later in the night. Over near the post-race inspection area, another brawl occurred when Carlson was shoved by another team’s crew member. Carlson’s son and former Five Flags Speedway Pro Late Model Champion, Brandon, then attacked the man who pushed his father and it was on.
Luckily, folding chairs weren’t involved.
Several people were cuffed and taken away by police. While all the commotion happened near inspection, there were surprisingly no fireworks to be had in inspection this time. Friday night’s race was the first Blizzard event of the year in which none of the top five finishers were disqualified for illegal parts on their racecars.
The first part of the race was far more peaceful than the end. Grill led the first several laps before Mader took command on lap 18. Mader dominated much of the remainder of the race before Smith took the lead on lap 80 during a long green-flag run. Just 12 laps later and eight
Dave Mader, III
laps short of the finish, the lead lap cars needed fresh rubber for the conclusion of the race. Smith beat Mader, Grill, Carlson and Johnny Brazier off pit road.
Georgian Bubba Pollard, who had pitted for tires on a lap 25 caution, inherited the lead but was a sitting duck on old tires at the start. Smith quickly took the lead and held it until the final restart when all hell broke loose.
While Smith and Mader tossed verbal and physical jabs at one another after the race, Grill saw the whole incident as just hard short-track racing.
“Mader got under me off two and I had a nose under Casey,” said Grill. “The door was closed and we just ran out of racetrack. As far as I could see it was just a racing incident. I was under him going into one and he didn’t give me any room. Mader just complicated things going into three.”
Pollard’s pit strategy worked to get him up front, but he knew that he was in trouble when the rest of the leaders pitted.
“Yeah we had on old tires but I knew we had a good car. We started 20th and I told them that we were going to short pit because that was the only way we were going to get back to the front, and we did.
“When the leaders pitted, I knew I was done. If it would’ve went green, we could’ve hung on to third. We had a good run and it was the first time the car was on the track, so it’s ok.”
On the racetrack, Mader proved that he was a contender for the title; speaking in racing terms, not wrestling, of
Casey Smith gets pulled out of the brawl on pit road.