Johanna Long Declares Family Victory at Snowball Derby

At her home track, surrounded by her family and over one hundred of her closest friends, Johanna Long laid claim to the coveted Snowball Derby trophy. Long, just 18 years old, became the youngest winner of the infamous race at Five Flags Speedway and just the second female ever to hoist the Tom Dawson trophy.

“It means a lot to me,” Long said. “It’s my backyard and to have all my family and all my friends come, it was awesome to share it with them.”

[media-credit name=”One Source Track Photography” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]For Long, being surrounded by family and friends made the win not only special, but also very emotional.

“Everyone was crying,” Long said. “My dad’s been running this race for ten years and we finally did it. We won the race. So, it was just very emotional.”

Long, behind the wheel of her No. 10 Panhandle Paving & Grading, qualified well for the 43rd running of the Snowball Derby, the race deemed the unofficial Super Bowl of Short Track Racing for Super Late Models. Long started the race in fourth and worked her way quickly to the front of the field.

“We started the race and we led a few laps,” Long said. “But then we fell back because we wore our tires out.”
After getting stuck in the pits, Long quickly got back up to the front of the field. But her tires yet again betrayed her, leaving her and her crew in hope of the next caution.

“We were waiting for the last pit stop with about ten laps to go and we finally got to pit,” Long said. “We were all on different strategies for pitting so we were scattered all over the place.”

Long started seventh after pitting for tires and she worked her way to the front of the field, picking spots off one at a time and avoiding the wrecks which had broken out all over the field. She then had to battle one more driver, another up and comer Landon Cassill, for the race lead.

“Me and Landon Cassill were racing pretty hard and I got into him a little bit,” Long said. “But I came out and he didn’t. Me and Landon go way back and it was after all the last lap of the Snowball Derby. So you’ve got to give it your all.”

“There were guys out there that are the best of the best,” Long said. “People come from all over to race this race and to beat all of them was pretty awesome.”

Although this was the only win of the year for Long, she has also valued the seat time she has gotten this season, particularly in the Truck Series. She is also looking to capitalize on her Snowball Derby momentum to carry her and her team into the next year.

“I know we’re going to run Truck races for sure,” Long said. “Hopefully we will get a whole full season and we’re working really hard for that.”

Long plans to run the entire 2011 season in her family-owned Truck team, just as she did in the latter part of the 2010 season. She, like so many of her peers, is also in search of sponsorship to support her seat time and her dream.

“We have great people backing me and a great crew chief,” Long said. “Everyone is giving me a great truck every time I go out there. We just need a little bit of sponsorship so hopefully we can make it.”

Long hopes that her Snowball Derby win will indeed turn heads her way and perhaps garner her opportunities that she would not have had prior to her victory.

“Hopefully I did open some eyes and they see that I can do it,” Long said. “I’ve learned a lot and I know that I will be just as good if I can do the same in the truck.”

Long is also looking forward to the holidays where she will spend some much-needed time off with her family before preparing to take to the track at Daytona for the start of the 2011 season. She is also looking forward to spending time with her sister and new nephew Gage, who was born shortly after her Snowball Derby win.

“He was born the day after the Derby so we went straight to the hospital,” Long said. “It was a very emotional week.”

“What a night, what a weekend, what a year,” Long said. “This is what I’ve dreamed of ever since I became a racer. It is my family’s dream and I couldn’t have done it with my dad, my mom and sisters, my aunts and uncles and grandparents.”

“After a long learning year in the Truck Series, it was awesome to come back to my home track and get this done,” Long said. “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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