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Top Drivers, Racing Fans Turn Out for the Snowball Derby

They come from small towns, big cities and different countries with the dream of winning the nation’s most prestigious short track race and celebrating victory by kissing the coveted Tom Dawson trophy.

Racing all-stars speed their way to the Gulf Coast each December for the Snowball Derby, a 300-lap super late model stock car race held at the half-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola.

In the short track racing world, the Snowball Derby is known as the nation’s most prestigious race: a 300-lap Super Late Model race featuring some of the best short track drivers in the country who try to make the final 38 car field. The driver that comes out on top after 300 laps can proudly say that he beat the best of the best.

While the Snowball Derby is the big attraction, it is just part of the racing action fans can experience at Five Flags during Snowball Derby week. The event kicks off midweek when close to 250 teams, representing seven divisions of racing, touchdown in Pensacola to show off their skills and speed in different competitions throughout the week. A free Green Flag Party includes food, beverages, music and an autograph signing session.

As the week progresses, Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 hopefuls practice and qualify for the big event. On Saturday race fans can witness Snowball Derby practice, final Derby qualifying, and the Allen Turner Snowflake 100-lap race for the top Pro Late Model racers in the country. The official Snowball Derby is held on Sunday.

Since it was first run in 1968, the race has drawn top series NASCAR drivers. Top drivers at the Snowball Derby have included Kyle Busch, Steve Wallace, Bobby Gill, Bill Elliott's son Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth's son Ross Kenseth, David Stremme, Tammy Jo Kirk and Cale Gale.

The qualifiers and main event draw more than 30,000 fans over the course of four days, with 10,000 fans turning out for the final race.

The Snowball Derby is very competitive and drivers and their teams often build new cars just for this race.

And they add a little flair to the track by decorating cars in the holiday spirit. Fans vote for a favorite Snowball car, which is often themed for Florida winter or the holiday season.

So add a little speed and excitement to your holiday traditions with a trip to the track for Snowball Derby.