CHECKERS AND WRECKERS AT SNOWBALL SHOWDOWN  by Steve Neely
Go-Kart Blocking, Racing and Hot “Chocolate” at Fast Eddies
The 7th Annual Snowball Showdown at Fast Eddie’s Fun Center is in the books.  Drivers, teams and fans flocked to the event to compete for bragging rights and confidence leading into of one of the crown jewels of short track racing, the Snowball Derby.  For others it was simply a chance to go wheel-to-wheel against some of the best Short Trackers in the country.
The blocking provided the first of many accusations of cheating during the event.

Jeff Chocolate (aka Choquette), who was the runner-up in the Snowball Derby Driver’s Race, was among the first to accuse Ryan Foster of having an unfair advantage. 

“I protest… he weighs a lot less.  I protest that win.  We were just as fast, but I couldn’t get to him,” said Chocolate.  “They should make him go across the scales.”

Foster was more than happy with his win, despite the allegations of misconduct. 
When the cheating accusations and fat jokes subsided, Jeff Chocolate (aka Jeff Choquette) was the big winner at Fast Eddie's.  (51 photos)
“I did alright,” said Foster.  “The Kellogg’s #5 did pretty good out there.  It’s a lot of fun.  I’m a little smaller than some of them, so they think I weigh a little less.  Hey, a win is a win and I’ll take it anyway I can get it.  I think they just need to lose some weight.”

Middleton, after climbing out of a car which he complained was too slow, quickly responded to the allegations of blocking.

“You gotta feel my pain having to drive that 20 car,” said Middleton.  “He’s (Foster) rolling around here in an IndyCar and I’m rolling around here in a go-kart.  It’s just not fair.”
After some serious technical inspection and a total tear down of Foster’s kart, the win was allowed to stand. 

Then it was on to the main event… the heat races that would start qualifying drivers for the 25-lap Snowball Showdown.   Finish first or second in a heat and move to the semi-features.  Finish in the top three in the semi-feature and move on to the Snowball Showdown.

However, the heat races were also not without controversy as well.  During one of the heat races, former Snowball Derby champion Steve Wallace was suspended indefinitely by track officials for violations in Scott Carlson’s Snowball Showdown rulebook. Track Officials cited specifically sections 66-Q (intentionally wrecking a competitor’s kart) and 12-A (actions detrimental to go-kart racing).

Not even Jay Middleton's (#20) blocking could keep Ryan Foster (#5) from getting the biggest win in the history of the Earth in the Driver's Race.
Wallace had fun, but didn’t see eye-to-eye with officials’ decisions to park him for the night.

“I really don’t know.  I think it was a rough driving penalty,” said Wallace.  “We had a couple incidents on the racetrack tonight that were improper.  They were by me.  It’s one of those racing things.  I’m confused.  I’m upset.  But I’ll get over it.”

Drivers, crew members and fans alike raced and transfered to the semifinals.  And, for the first time in Snowball Showdown history, all three of Speed51.com’s members made it to the semifinals.  Taking a page from Middleton’s book, Matthew Dillner threw some blocks to help 51 newcomer Steven Neely transfer in his heat.  Jeremy Troiano and Dillner won both of their heat races.  The two then transferred into the Snowball Showdown by finishing second in their respective semi-races. 

When all 11 heat races were completed, the rough and tumble semi-finals set the field for the race everyone in attendance was waiting for… the Snowball Showdown.

Steve Wallace pre-getting the boot from the action Thursday night.
The Showdown had a lot riding on it.  In addition to the checkered flag and pride, the winner also received a trophy and $151 courtesy of Fast Eddies Fun Center and Speed51.com.

After a wild, bump and grind start, the race settled down, setting up a duel between two of the drivers who were shut out of victory lane for most of the night, Mr. Protest himself Jeff Chocolate and Josh Hamner, along with Speed51.com’s Troiano.   After some hefty blocking by fellow teammate Dillner, Troiano was able to take the lead.  However, what goes around comes around, and Troiano was quickly knocked back to third by a fellow Chocolate teammate who was also in the race and a lapped car. 
That set up a race between Chocolate and Hamner, who has raced in every Showdown since the event’s inception.  Both drivers had some added interference from some designated “blockers” in the race.  In the end, Chocolate was able to hang on with a margin of victory of about 2 kart lengths.

“I was just joking around, protesting everybody else because they were lighter than me, but really the karts are all the same; it’s just who’s driving them,” said Chocolate.  “I saw Josh coming up behind me and I had a guy from my crew who made the main event and he was helping me out a little bit.  I don’t want to mention
51's Jeremy Troiano (left) and Matthew Dillner (right) discuss their race strategy that has some other drivers ticked off.
any names from the Speed51 crew, but they were doing a lot of blocking for their teammates.  It was a lot of fun.  It takes a lot of pressure off you on a big weekend.  I think I ended up racing about four or five races in all.  I’ll be back next year too.”

Hamner was happy with his second-place finish, but blamed several blocks for keeping him out of victory lane.

“The Speed52 guys claimed to help me out but they really hurt me more than anything,” said Hamner of Dillner’s blocking tactics.  “Then Chocolate’s buddy chopped me pretty bad. 

“I’d like to thank my sponsors, Fast Eddie’s Fun Center, High Impact Designs and Denise Carlson.  Without her, it wouldn’t be possible to bring my hot rod out here to run.  I’ve run the Showdown all seven years.  Maybe next year I’ll win.”

Will Hamner protest Chocolate’s win? 

“Sure.  He had a weight advantage.”