Super Late Models
Josh Berry Claims Pole for 55th Snowball Derby
Dec 3, 2022
The Tom Dawson Trophy isn’t the only prize up for grabs in the Snowball Derby each year and Noah Gragson never got one of his trophies …
… until now.
In addition to the purse and the headline trophy, the winner also receives a steering wheel trophy designed by Max Papis of MPI and decorated by Tim Horvath of Horvath Designs. Unfortunately for Gragson, who won the race in 2018 in his final start with Kyle Busch Motorsports, the steering wheel trophy was lost in the mail and never reached its intended recipient.
While Gragson certainly cherishes the Tom Dawson, he was particularly fond of the steering wheel, and though it was the coolest thing. That the track only gave him a makeshift version left him incredibly bummed because he wanted the real thing.
Horvath never forgot and went to work over the summer with Papis to recreate the 2018 design. He snuck it into the track on Friday and caught Gragson only partially by surprise. You see, Horvath told his friend that he made something for him and Gragson immediately suggested it was the MPI Wheel. Horvath tried to tell him to lower his expectations but Gragson was undeterred.
"Noah is too smart," Horvath said as he was getting the trophy out of the other Rette Jones Racing hauler. "He knows I owe him something and I've owed it to him for a long time thanks to FedEx."
So, Horvath took the trophy over to the RJR No. 30 hauler, called Gragson outside, and the trophy caught his eye as soon as he peeked his head out the door.
"Oh, let’s go," Gragson shouted with a big hug for Horvath.
He then peeked back inside the hauler and shouted to his crew that ‘I got the steering wheel’ before coming back outside to hug Horvath again.
"This belongs to you."
"I wanted this thing for so long."
"I wanted to make sure you got to add this to your trophy case. You earned it. I’m sorry FedEx lost it."
Was it like winning the race all over again for Gragson?
"I don’t know," Gragson said. "It might be cooler because I never thought I would see this or get it. Horvath kept his word."
It’s not like Gragson doesn’t have the Tom Dawson Trophy so what made this one so important to him?
"My first year here, 2015, the tech crew stands on top of the roof and Max is up there with the trophy, and I thought I really wanted it," Gragson said. "It’s that cool. Finally got it. It was worth the wait."
Horvath says Gragson reminded him all the time that he wanted one. Horvath, knowing exactly what he planned to do, kind of played it off and teased that he would try to do it but no promises. He knew darn well that he was going to.
"I’d drive down to North Carolina and he told me, ‘Horvath, I wanted that white steering wheel more than anything.’ They gave him the makeshift one, and he said he appreciated it and it’s hanging in his trophy case, but said ‘I’m going to get the MPI white one someday.’
"I told him I might know a guy."
Gragson qualified fifth on Friday and says this is the best car he has ever driven here. That speaks volumes considering that he won the race in 2018.
"We’re pretty good with this Phase Two Port City Car," Gragson said. "Mark Rette built a really fast race car. Port City. I’m really happy with it. Need a little more drive on exit. Overall, it’s the best car I have ever had here in the center of the corner.
"It almost turns too good in the center of the corner in 3 and 4 but we’re going to be really good once we get some more forward drive into it."