PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Mike Garvey is one of the most accomplished short track drivers of his era but a victory in the Snowball Derby has eluded him for over two decades.
Garvey made his first start in the Derby way back in 1990, when it was part of the All Pro Super Series schedule and has made 11 starts in the race overall. And despite a career that has included numerous short track championships and starts in all three NASCAR national tours, Garvey has struggled to win the big one.
In fact, he hasn't even scored a top-5 in the Snowball Derby and has finished outside of the top-20 on nine of those occasions, despite always having some of the best equipment of his era.
"It's gut wrenching," Garvey told SB Nation on Thursday. "You put all this work into coming here and this is like the Daytona 500 for short track racing. You don't want to have problems but getting to the end of this race is part of the battle."
He has competed in the Tracy Goodson No. 1 entry since 2010 and has even moved to Pensacola, all in the attempt to knock the Derby off his ever-shortening bucket list.
"It would mean a lot," Garvey said. "I was just coming down here because it's something fun to do. It was like a vacation. But now that we live here, it's become a lot more important. I understand more of the history of it -- not that we didn't know before -- but now living here and how much it would mean to Tracy and would be huge.
"It would be just super."
Despite a slow start to his Southern Super Series campaign in 2013, Garvey really began to hit his stride over the summer months, scoring six top-10s in a row and nine overall to finish fourth in the inaugural championship standings.
Garvey says his team was experimenting all season long with a steady eye focused on Pensacola and the first weekend of December.
"We were a third or fourth place car," Garvey said. "We could have stayed there but I don't want to just go there and run third and fourth so we tried different things, hoping to make the cars better. We did and then suddenly we started having motor issues -- which weren't the motor builder's fault -- but they were just part failures.
"The motor builders are doing a great job. We've freshened everything up for the Derby and everything is as top notch as we can get it."
Rumors have Garvey and Goodson exploring a return to the Pro Cup Series next season but the Minnesota native says he hasn't ruled out a second full season in the Southern Super Series next year.
"I don't know if we are or not," Garvey said of a Super Series return. "We're really sitting down and trying to decide what we're going to do as a company with Goodson Racing -- how much we're going to race and how much we're going to help other people race.
"So we're going to sit down and talk that over once we're done with the Derby here and proceed from there."
Continuing coverage of the Snowball Derby can be found on the Ranting and Raving short track blog. Visit our Facebook page for all the updates and links to our stories leading up to the Super Bowl of Short Track Racing.