51 Sports PR
Snowball Derby Trophy Could Head Up to the Midwest
Hantz and Gabehart Are Looking to Add Their Name to the History Books

“To me the there are two races in asphalt short track racing that are far better than the rest - the Winchester 400 and the Snowball Derby,” said Hantz.  “If you have any aspirations of moving up in the sport, those are the two places to be.”  

“The Snowball Derby is a great event,” said Gabehart.  “It is what I wish all of short track racing could be like.  It's great from a competition standpoint; the fans and atmosphere are just simply amazing.  It's really an honor to be a part of it.”

“It's kind of a fantasyland for me living in the Midwest,” said Van Doorn.  “I get to drive great cars on some historic tracks.  I hear there is a whole lot of competition down there. It's a whole new animal for me and it should be fun.”

There is nothing that would please this group of Midwesterners more than adding one of their own names to the list of drivers from that region who can call themselves Snowball Derby winners.  That list already includes names like Gary St. Amant, Rich Bickle, Ted Musgrave, Butch Miller and Ed Howe - but it hasn't grown any since St. Amant won the race in 2000.

This could be the year to end that drought though.

“We want to win the Derby,” said Van Doorn.  “If we ran in the top five that would be great for us.  We really just need to finish.  We have had some good cars this year and not been able to finish.  We just need to stay out of the bad luck.  If we finish we have a good chance at winning.”

Even Chris Gabehart, who will be making only his third start of the 2008 season, likes his chances at the Derby.  After all, he is the 2008 All-American 400 winner and he also led the Winchester 400 this year before dropping out of the race early.

“I told everybody that I wasn't going to be out of the seat forever,” said Gabehart.  “I just needed to find a way to make a living doing this racing deal.  I knew I was going to run the bigger races; it's just been fun for us.  If we get some luck, we can have a good run in Pensacola like we did in Nashville.”
Scott Hantz (Top - Jamie Williams Photo), Johnny Van Doorn (Middle - 51 Photo) and Chris Gabehart (Bottom - Jamie Williams Photo) are all headed to the Snowball Derby.
"For me it's my kind of track.  You have to conserve your tires because how the track surface is,” said Hantz.  “Track position is key and that's where we have been lacking a bit the last few times that we have been down there.  Last year we had a good car and we felt we could have run with t6he leaders, but our pit strategy wasn't real good.  I felt we had a top five car last year, but we just didn't get the job done.”

So could Hantz imagine himself as a Snowball Derby winner?  Maybe not.  But at the same time, he never really imagined any of his major career accomplishments to date.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that we would be three time champion and the CRA Series all time winner,” admitted Hantz.

The 41st Annual Snowball Derby Weekend will kick off Wednesday, December 3rd with the Fifth Annual Cat Country/WEAR-TV3 Green Flag Party, where fans can meet their favorite drivers and enjoy live music, food, beverages and more entertainment for the whole family.  On-track action will kick off on Thursday, December 4th, with practice for the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 and the Snowball Derby, as well as practice, qualifying and features for the Sportsmen and Bombers. 

102.7 WXBM Pole Night is Friday, December 5th, with time trials for the Snowball Derby being the headline event on a schedule that also includes practice for the Snowball and Snowflake and events for the Open-Wheeled Modifieds and Super Stocks.

The Allen Turner Snowflake 100 headlines the activities on Saturday, December 6th, as the Pro Late Models will take to Five Flags for their time trials and the 100-green-flag-lap feature.  The last-chance qualifying race for the Snowball Derby Saturday night will set the field for Sunday's main event for the Super Late Models.

The 41st Annual Snowball Derby is scheduled to take the green flag at 2pm CT at Five Flags Speedway. 

Grandstand and VIP tickets are still available for the entire Snowball Derby weekend and are going fast.  Contact the Five Flags Speedway Box Office for advance tickets today by calling (850) 944-8400 or print out and mail the advance ticket order form available on the official event website, www.snowballderby.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE - In the time since 51 talked to Johnny Van Doorn, his team decided to withdraw their Snowball Derby entry due to lack of sponsorship.

Midwestern short trackers know a great race when they see one.  In their own backyards, they have major events like the Winchester 400, The Boyne at Berlin and the Slinger Nationals.

And as the 2008 racing calendar is turned to its last page, a small group of the best Midwestern short trackers are getting ready to pack up and head to Pensacola, Florida - where the 41st Annual Snowball Derby will be held at Five Flags Speedway on Sunday, December 7th.  Among the Midwestern entries for the race are former ASA National Tour champion Gary St. Amant, 2008 CRA Super Series champion Scott Hantz from Indiana, 2007 CRA champion Chris Gabehart, also from Indiana, and Michigan's Johnny Van Doorn, a former winner of the All American 400.