It doesn’t matter if it is an event for cars with wild Outlaw bodies or sleek ABC bodies. It doesn’t matter if the race is part of a major short track tour like the CRA or if it is an open show at a local track. If it is a Super Late Model show, Scott Hantz wants to be there.
That makes it absolutely no surprise that the Angola, Indiana driver is making plans to race at the biggest SLM show in the land – the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby that will take place at Pensacola, Florida’s Five Flags Speedway from December 1st-5th.
Heading to the Derby is no easy task, only the best-prepared teams need apply when it comes to having a shot at a strong finish. But Hantz knows that the extra work and resources that are needed to make the race every year are well worth it.
“You know, the Derby is an expensive race that takes a lot of preparation and a pit crew,” said Hantz. “Every year, you wonder why you do it and then every year you go down there and see it and it’s the closest thing to NASCAR for us. There are so many people and so many cars. The competition is a lot of fun. The rules are in black and white and Ricky [Brooks] is very fair with everyone [in enforcing those rules], so we want to be there. It’s my Daytona 500.”
Since it is such a big race, Hantz is realistic about his chances. Yes, he wants to win. But he’s been around enough to know that a strong and respectable finish is its own victory when you are racing against the best teams in Super Late Model racing. Hantz almost got that top-five result in last season’s Derby, but got into a wreck on the final lap.
“Obviously, you want to win but I’d be happy with a top five,” said Hantz. I’ve never finished in the top five there yet. I was running fifth there on the last lap and got crashed. So hopefully, I’ll just have a good showing.”
Hantz knows too that the Derby experience isn’t just about Sunday’s big race. In fact, he is quick to point out that Friday night’s qualifying session is just as important – and the atmosphere is just as electric.
“The best thing there is the qualifying,” said Hantz. “There are probably 500 people standing on pit road when you qualify. It is unbelievable.”
Hantz has a long resume in short track racing already. He’s been the CRA Super Series champion, he’s won at the historic Nashville short track and he’s won the Winchester 400. A Snowball Derby victory would be fitting for this racer.
“It would be good to see the Derby trophy next to my Winchester shotgun,” said Hantz. “I’ve got a guitar from Nashville too, so the Derby would be a good addition.”
With that long list of accomplishments, you might think if Hantz could win the Derby this year, it would be the kind of moment where he might just retire in victory lane at the height of his career. But Hantz is a racer and that would not be his game plan.
“No,” he laughed when asked about that scenario. “I’d just come back and try to do it again.”
The 43rd Annual Snowball Derby weekend kicks off on Wednesday, December 1st, with the Cat Country/WEAR TV3 Free Green Flag Party, where fans can meet their favorite drivers on the Five Flags asphalt. On-track action kicks off on Thursday, December 2nd, with practice for the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 cars, as well as features for the Five Flags Bomber and Sportsman divisions. Friday is qualifying day for the Snowball Derby cars, while the Pro Late Models will get more practice and the Super Stocks and Modified feature events.
The Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 will go green on Saturday, December 4th, along with last-chance qualifying races for the Snowball Derby. Then on Sunday, the green flag will wave for the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby.
For more information on the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby, contact Five Flags Speedway by calling (850) 944-8400 and be sure to visit www.snowballderby.com and www.fiveflagsspeedway.com.