FULL RANGE OF EMOTIONS ON DISPLAY AT FIVE FLAGS By Steven Neely
Mader Crowned Blizzard Series Champion with Win
The belief that Friday the 13th is unlucky has long been superstition in folklore. Dave Mader III might not believe in folklore anymore.
Mader used a little bit of luck on the traditionally bad luck day to win the crash-marred Blizzard Series finale at Five Flags Speedway, clinching the five-race championship and one of two guaranteed provisional starting spots for the 39th annual Snowball Derby.
After leading briefly early in the race, Mader waited patiently in the top five for most of the night until a late-race incident between Johnny Brazier and leader Donald Long. Brazier got into the rear bumper of Long off of turn two and sent Long’s car spinning into the inside guardrail on the backstretch.
Brazier was penalized by race officials for causing the incident, but that wasn’t enough for Long, who knocked Brazier’s car down to the inside of turn two and trapping him there. A shouting match between the two ensued.
Meanwhile, Mader inherited the lead.
“Patience is a virtue,” said Mader. “I’ve been fortunate to have patience since I started, and 34 years later, it’s
Dave Mader, III had a big weekend, winning the Blizzard Series championship, along with the final race. (51 Photos)
gotten even better. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Like tonight we had a third-place car actually, but the circumstances and things happen. It’s rare for the front guys, but I know Johnny didn’t do that on purpose, just like the last Blizzard race when Eddie (Mercer) got into Scott Carlson. He didn’t mean to.”
Long thought otherwise.
“He pretty much just took us out” Long said. “I don’t race people like that, and if he wants to race like that, we can line them up, roll them out and tear the hell out of each one of them. It’s uncalled for; it took both of us out of the race. If he was faster, he could’ve passed me.”
Brazier declined to comment after the race.
That incident was only the tip of the iceberg for the night’s tension. Scott Carlson made contact with Ryan Crane on lap 77, which sent Crane spinning. Crane caught back up under caution and nudged Carlson’s car down the frontstretch, showing his displeasure before parking his car for the night.
Yet another heated exchange took place during the overtime segment. On lap 105, Roger Reuse was spun in turn four by Joey Senter. Reuse climbed from the car and charged towards Senter’s car, gesturing and yelling before being restrained by track security.
The race even started with a first lap wreck when Jason Young spun and started a chain-reaction crash behind him. The pileup resulted in a lot of mangled sheet metal, seven cars damaged in all, but most were able to continue on.
In the end it came down to those who were a little lucky and could avoid those incidents.
Mader held off Josh Hamner for the win, with Donnie Wilson, Jay Middleton, and Carlson rounding out the top five.
For many drivers, this race was bittersweet, as it was the first Super Late Model race since Charlie Bradberry was killed in a motor vehicle accident near his hometown of Chelsea, AL. Second-place finisher Hamner was among those who paid tribute to Charlie with stickers and a red hood with Bradberry’s #78 on it.
“It's a little easier being at the track but this is the first race that's gone on since it happened, so you can't help but think about it,” said Hamner. “It’s on everybody’s mind pretty heavily but you just have to put it behind you and keep digging.”
The speedway also paid tribute to Bradberry by staging a memorial during pre-race activities. The drivers lined up in a moment of silence before the race, and the track’s flag was lowered to half staff. When the cars warmed up before going green, the inside lane slowed down to simulate a “missing man” formation in honor of Charlie.
As somber as it might seem, many drivers wanted to focus on all the good times they spent over the years with the driver in the bright red #78.
“Being back here in this atmosphere helps,” said Middleton. “It’s like a farewell funeral, but it’s a positive one. Everybody’s happy to remember him and talk about him. Nobody walked around here sad, everyone’s just glad to have known him.”
Drivers lined up before the start of the race to honor the late Charlie Bradberry.
“The best memories of Charlie are just hanging out, you know, just everything I remember about Charlie was a good time,” said Hamner, adding “like when he would pick me up before I could drive and go shoot pool or do something stupid. That's all you can do is think about the good times and 90% of the time you were with Charlie if not every time you were having a good time.”
Ryan Crane echoed those thoughts.
“I got so many great memories of Charlie, it’s hard to pick one out,” said Crane. “All I can say is he was a great friend, and we’re sure going to miss him.”
Mader's #30 won the race, but Donald Long's #10 was the car to beat early in the event.