Bradberry Ready To Defend His Snowball Derby Crown Racer Hopes For Easier Week Before Snowball Derby In '04 CHELSEA, AL (November 23, 2004) -- If getting there is half the fun, then Charlie Bradberry might have a boring week leading up to the...
Bradberry Ready To Defend His Snowball Derby Crown
Racer Hopes For Easier Week Before Snowball Derby In '04
CHELSEA, AL (November 23, 2004) -- If getting there is half the fun, then Charlie Bradberry might have a boring week leading up to the 37th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) compared to last year. However, the defending race winner still hopes to end the weekend in victory lane, but he would like an easier trip to get there.
In 2003, Bradberry spent the days before leading up to the race in New York City representing the NASCAR Southeast Series as their champion during the Cup Series banquet. His plan was to fly out of the Big Apple on Saturday morning for a little bit of practice in Florida before the Sunday feature event. What he didn't plan on was snow -- and lots of it.
"I was looking forward to the banquet last year, but there was no way in the world that I was going to miss the Derby. That would have killed me," recalls Bradberry. "On Saturday morning, I just about got snowed in up there. We got to the airport on Saturday morning and all of the flights were canceled. The whole airport was shut down. I went back to the hotel and got on the phone. I called everyone that I knew to try and get out of town, but kept coming up short.
"After lunch, my father got a hold of a friend of his in Alabama who got a hold of two pilots brave enough to fly out in (the now-famous) Northeast Blizzard of 2003. We chartered a plane and made plans to fly out at 10pm on Saturday night."
But first, they needed to get to the airport.
"We drove to the airport in New Jersey and it wasn't very far. But, it was still snowing and there was nobody on the roads. It was rough ride. My father, (SPEED Channel Motorsports Broadcaster) Bob Dillner and I rode in a taxi with a driver who couldn't speak English. I thought that we all were going to die getting there.
"Then at the airport, the plan was to board the plane in the hanger, roll it out quickly and fly off before the wings could ice up. It was going to be close. We rolled the plane out and it wouldn't start. They needed another generator to get it fired up. We couldn't even see the runway and the plane started getting sideways when it took off. I was so glad when it finally went straight up into the air."
The whole experience didn't help Bradberry when he finally did get to race the next day.
"We got into town around midnight, but I couldn't sleep," said Bradberry. "I was pretty tired the next day. On the last restart I was so tired that I started to doze off a little bit. Gary St. Amant was behind me and I started to fall asleep a little bit coming to the green flag. I told myself that I'd better get going right now before I lost the race."
Winning the Snowball Derby was a huge feat for Bradberry. It's also one that he'd like to repeat this season.
"I've always just loved to go down to that race," said Bradberry. "This year, I won't have as much pressure because we won it already. But I'm going to try really hard to win two-in-a-row. I always thought that I could win this race and doing it last year gives me more confidence. Last year, we started in the back and this year I'd like to try and win from the pole.
"It's a tough race to run. It's so hard just to finish the race. You need a good car and you need to make it through the wrecks. You can't think about pressure, you just need to go."
Bradberry has been competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and selected major short track races during the 2004 season.