Swamp buggies: Bonnie Walsh outlasts Dan Greenling to win Winter Classic

Adam Fisher
adam.fisher@naplesnews.com; 239-403-6135

Bonnie Walsh had a simple plan to win the top prize Sunday at the Budweiser Winter Classic swamp buggy races.

Fatal Attraction driver Bonnie Walsh, 57, crosses the finish line to win the Big Feature in 54.35 seconds during the Budweiser Winter Classic swamp buggy races at Florida Sports Park in Naples, Florida on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. This weekend was her first time racing since her husband and fellow swamp buggy driver, Terry ÒT-BoneÓ Walsh, died in March 2016.

Start fast and finish faster.

Driving her buggy Fatal Attraction, Walsh needed every last ounce of speed to hold off Dan Greenling’s Roll On, the track record-holder at Florida Sports Park in East Naples, for the second time Sunday.

Walsh, 57, got off to a fast start and extended her lead on the second lap of the Big Feature, winning the Classic’s championship race in 54.35 seconds.

“Did you see those sneakers sticking out the front of the buggy? They were mine,” said Walsh, referencing how hard to slam on the gas to stay in front. “I just expected Dan to pass me on either side. I didn’t know which side he was going to get me on, but I knew he was going to get me.”

Swamp buggies: Bonnie Walsh races in memory of late husband T-Bone

Fatal Attraction crew chief Brett Jameson points to the sky in jubilation as his driver, Bonnie Walsh, drives to the winner's circle during the Budweiser Winter Classic swamp buggy races at Florida Sports Park in Naples, Fla., on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Walsh, who won the Big Feature, was racing for the first time since her husband and buggy partner, Terry, died in March 2016.

But he didn’t. Greenling, who’s won eight Big Features and two season-long Budweiser Cup titles, finished three buggy lengths and 2.12 seconds (56.47) behind Walsh.

Walsh and Greenling went head-to-head in the first race of the day, and Walsh won by 0.08 seconds. Racers were able to buy back into the elimination tournament only after the first round, which Greenling did.

“I was staying with her for a while,” Greenling said of the Big Feature. “Once we got up to the north end (of the track), I couldn’t stay with her any longer. I was on the outside, and you just get a little bit behind and you can’t get around.”

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