SNOWBALL DERBY COVERAGE
By Elgin Traylor and Mike Twist
Ricky Brooks and Donald Long Respond to Wauters' Accusations and Harsh Comments
Verbal Jabs Continue While Some Feelings Get Trampled in Snowball Derby Drama
After Wauters commented on that relationship, Brooks addressed the situation head on in the Saturday morning drivers’ meeting. Then he spent a little time with Speed51.com to clear the air.
“Anytime anybody thinks that someone is getting an advantage or they doubt me they can come over here and they can inspect the cars,” said Brooks. “Me and my officials will back away and they can inspect the cars. Everything I do is straight up; nobody is getting any better treatment then anyone else.”
Brooks also confirmed that he does work for Donald Long, but not in the race shop. Instead, he reports to work every day as an employee of Long’s Panhandle Paving and Grading.
“I run two of his asphalt plants,” said Brooks. “I do not work on the racecars. Every now and then I will go to the races with him to drive the truck. I went to Nashville with him; I also helped Donnie Wilson on Saturday for the race.”
In an effort to let the competition know he doesn't play favorites, Ricky Brooks told the drivers on Saturday that anyone can come into tech and take a look at anything they are doing as well as looking at parts. (51 Sports Photo)
“Ricky runs my asphalt plant,” explained Long. “He could work anywhere in the country he wanted too because of how good of a man he is.”
Long is someone who many fellow competitors would describe as one of the nicest guys in the entire pit area. He’s helped promote racing at Five Flags Speedway in the community and has even been involved in some of the improvements to the speedway grandstand area in the past year. Long, and his daughter Johanna, are popular and well-respected in the Pensacola area as well. So, with all of those credentials, the accusations levied by Wauters surprised, and hurt, Long.
When Richie Wauters had his team disqualified from the Snowball Derby weekend after they were found to be in possession of soaked tires, he had to leave the track on the order of head technical inspector Ricky Brooks. Wauters left, but didn’t go quietly. He had a few choice comments questioning Brooks’ objectivity first and he shared them with Speed51.com (click here for the original story).
That isn’t anything new for Brooks. He has been at the center of attention for the last several years here at the Snowball Derby…and even in the Blizzard Series races at the track. Brooks has made several high-profile disqualifications and that has earned his a few adversaries along the way. Some people have been pointing the finger at him because he is employed in his day job for one of the drivers who is running the Snowball Derby and competes regularly at Five Flags Speedway - Donald Long.
Johanna Long (left). (51 Sports Photo)
“I have never had a cross word or said anything about Richie (Wauters),” said Long. “For him to smash us like that is just not cool. It’s amazing how all of these people at this racetrack have no problems with him, and they come out and single me out and my 16-year-old daughter as well. It’s just ludicrous.”
Brooks isn’t going to let the talk get to him. In fact, he dismisses the Wauters comments as just trash talk.
“It doesn’t bother me that people are attacking me…Really it is [just] one coward in the bunch,” said Brooks. “We have over 100 cars here and I get told by a lot of drivers that they respect me, so if there’s only one cry baby in the bunch we can deal with that.”
In the end though, Long might have the best perspective on the situation. He has welcomed anyone with any questions about his racecar to come and take a look. He wants the world to know that he has nothing to hide and just wants to turn the spotlight back onto the racing.
“If I can just keep some of these people from talking about me and my daughter, things will be fine this weekend,” said Long. “I can understand Richie’s frustration and I don’t wish anything bad on him, but he can look at my car anytime. We are legal.”