Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Snowball Derby 2013: Donnie Wilson searching for first victory

Donnie Wilson has been making the long trek to many Super Late Model races throughout the last decade, but a victory in one of the major events like the Snowball Derby has eluded him.

In recent years, Donnie Wilson has become a household name to Super Late Model fans as well as a frequent contender going into just about any event.

The 2001 champion in the now defunct Texas-based United States Racing Association has led laps in all of the four "grand slam" super late model events.  One thing has escaped him though, a mark in the win column at the end of the day.

During the All American 400 in early November held at the Fairgrounds Speedway at Nashville, Wilson jumped out to the early lead and paced the field for more than a third of the race.  Unfortunately, slower pit stops required him to come from behind and ultimately resulted in a tenth place finish.

"I burned the tires up coming through the field.  By the end of the race the tires were cooked and we were a sitting duck," Wilson recalls.

The veteran driver continues to work on improving his Ford and feels like there is some definite momentum heading into this year's Snowball Derby.  Wilson, who has received expertise in past years from such names as Alex and Freddie Query, has been working with Butch Miller since halfway through the 2013 season.

"We're still learning each other, but we're slowly getting there.  We've had good cars, but the results haven't shown," said Wilson about his experience so far with Miller, the 1987 Snowball Derby winner.

In 2010, Wilson came the closest to victory when he found himself leading with less than ten laps to go and was even leading at lap 300.  Unfortunately due to numerous late cautions, the race needed to complete five green flag laps before the checkered could wave.  Wilson was unable to hold the lead on older tires, and after some additional altercations between other drivers crossed the line behind race winner Johanna Long.

"A lot of luck has to be on your side.  We qualified and raced good (this year) so we hope it carries over," Wilson says about his hopes for this year's Snowball Derby.

Coming into the race with a chance to win is what excites Wilson.  "It's kind of what we race for.  We've been close, but haven't knocked down the door.  We fund it out of our pockets.  Winning the Snowball Derby would be huge."

Snowball Derby week starts on Dec. 4 with the annual Green Flag Party at the track. Local divisions race Dec. 5 with pole qualifying for the Snowball Derby and the popular Southern Modified race set to occur on Friday, Dec. 6. The Snowflake 100 Pro Late Model race and last chance race for the Derby is set for Saturday, Dec. 7, culminating in the 46th Annual Snowball Derby 300 lap Super Late Model race on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8.

Continuing coverage of the Snowball Derby can be found on the Ranting and Raving short track blog. Visit our Facebook page for all the updates and links to our stories leading up to the Super Bowl of Short Track Racing.

This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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