Denmark looks to continue winning ways at Five Flags

Denmark Looks To Continue Winning Ways At Five Flags

Geno Denmark(Photo: Submitted)

By now, Geno Denmark has become a household name at Five Flags Speedway. The Dauphin Island, Ala., native enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the Bombers Division in 2015. Denmark won seven feature races en route to the track championship at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.

The 21-year-old will be one of the heavy favorites tonight at Pensacola s high banks, as the 48th annual Snowball Derby kicks off its week-long extravaganza and crowns its first set of champions with a 30-lap Bombers feature and 50-lap Sportsman race. But there s someone inside Denmark s own household that isn t impressed with all of his newfound success.

She s not happy about it, he said.

She is Diana Denmark, Geno s older sister, who had to be the responsible sibling when kid brother was having all the Friday night fun this year. Island Rainbow, which serves up pizza and snowballs among other fare, on Dauphin Island is the Denmark family business.

And when Geno Denmark heads off in his orange-and-white No. 88 to chase checkered flags in Pensacola, Diana stays behind to ensure the Island Rainbow brings in a pot of gold.

She s gotta work when everybody else leaves, Geno Demark explained. Their parents, Steven and Sharon Denmark, routinely make the trip with Geno. Diana Denmark, of course, is not a hater. Nor does she begrudge him any of the accomplishments he continues to stack up. She s proud of her baby brother. She just hates missing out on all the fun. With a father who is a former Super Stocks Snowball Derby winner, Geno Denmark seemed ripe for racing. Looks can be deceiving, though.

I didn t really grow up around it, Denmark said. I heard stories all about it. But my dad had sold all of his race car stuff by the time my sister was born.

A few years ago, son told father he had a racing itch to scratch. Fellow Mobile-area driver B.J. Leytham, the defending Bombers Snowball Derby champ, had an additional car parked in a field outside his shop.

Denmark Looks To Continue Winning Ways At Five Flags

Five Flags logo. (Photo: Submitted)

My dad asked if I could drive it that s just how dad is. He ll ask anybody anything, Denmark said. I borrowed B.J. s car one time and that s how I started. After Steve Denmark and friend Darrell Jackson bought the car, the younger Denmark purchased his own tires and safety equipment and was ready to give the sport a shot. Denmark s career began with a bang. In a bad way.

We missed half the races in 2013 because I tore the car up, he admitted. I rolled it four times in Mobile when I went off the backstretch. And, I put it into the wall in Pensacola.

I had to realize to let the car drive itself and not overdrive it.

Once that important racing lesson was learned, Denmark turned a page. In September 2014, he won the Lee Fields Memorial, Mobile International Speedway s version of the Snowball Derby.

That was pretty neat, Denmark said. We got a belt for a trophy, and we got to outrun B.J. to do it. By then, Denmark and Leytham were teammates. The pair have formed quite the dynasty between Mobile and Pensacola.

Denmark owns the Bombers track record at Five Flags while Leytham, in 2014, had an unbeaten streak of 19 straight races before losing.

I always wanted to race Pensacola because my dad raced and won so much there, Denmark said. Everybody expects to win races, but I wanna win a lotta races. I ve got some good car owners that give me a fast car. His drive and fascination with the same sport his father first fell in love with so many years ago has helped Geno strengthen what was already a close-knit bond with Steve.

He s over here every day, Geno said of Steve. We work it like it s a second job. It s a family affair for the Denmarks.

Now, if only Geno could talk his parents into giving Diana a night off so she could see what all the fuss is about.

Snowball Derby Week


10 a.m.-4 p.m. Snowball/Snowflake practice

5-6 p.m. Bomber & Sportsmen practice

6:15 p.m. Bomber and Sportsmen Quals

8 p.m. Bomber & SP B Main 10 Laps; Butler U-Pull-It Bomber (30 green laps); Beef O Brady Sportsmen (50 green laps)

Friday, Dec. 4

10 a.m. Snowball & Snowflake practice

11 a.m. Modified practice

11:45 a.m. Super Stock practice

1 p.m. Snowball practice

2 p.m. Snowflake only practice

3 p.m. Qualifying for mods and super stocks

6 p.m. NASH 102.7 Snowball Qualifying (Lock in top 30)

7:45 p.m. Pre-race festivities

8 p.m. SS and Mods B Mains (if necessary); Faith Chapel Super Stock (50 green laps); Modified (50 green laps)

Saturday, Dec. 5

10 a.m. Snowflake only practice

11:15 a.m. Pro Truck practice

1:30 p.m. Pro truck qualifying

2 p.m. Snowflake Qualifying; Snowflake Qualifier (50 laps); Snowball Qualifier (50 laps); Pro Truck Qualifier (if necessary)

7 p.m. Allen Turner Snowflake 100; Better Built Tool Boxes Pro Truck 50

Sunday, Dec. 6

10 a.m. Worship service

12 p.m. Engine warmups, cars to grid

12:45 p.m. Drivers introduction

2 p.m. Snowball Derby

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