ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — The Snowball Derby is back at Five Flags Speedway on Pine Forest Road for its 55th year. Qualifying rounds started Thursday, with the event running until Sunday.

“We consider this our biggest race of the season,” said crew chief Justus Poiroux. I guess you could say this is the real deal and all the other races are practice.”

The race brings fans from all over the world to Pensacola. Alfred Micknat makes the trip from Germany each year.

“It’s one of the best times of the year,” said Micknat. “For me it’s like birthday, Easter, Christmas in one time.”

Micknat fell in love with racing when he first visited the states in 1988.

All rounds lead up to the 300 lap Snowball Derby. This year, there are seven NASCAR connected drivers trying to make the field. Spectators and crew members are hoping to see their favorite driver take home the checkered flag.

“Preston Peltier,” said Eddy McKean, who traveled in his camper from Idaho. “We’re here to see the number 48 win the race.”

Poiroux said he hopes to bring home a trophy, but is mainly focused on “bringing the cars home in one piece.”