Countless stories have been told about the 16-year-old surprised with a new car on their birthday. Few stories however, include a 40-year-old surprised with a Legends race car on their birthday, but Griffin business owner Jimmy Wade got just such a surprise.
Wade, owner of Wade Tractor and Equipment, Inc. in Griffin, Ga., his wife Melissa and their four children regularly attended Thursday Thunder, Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekly Legends racing series, as spectators. Eventually Wade grew eager to climb behind the wheel of a race car; if it could be a family event.
"I was very interested in driving a Legends car," Wade said. "But only if I could make it a family affair. My kids showed some interest in it, so I decided I was going to try and convince Melissa we should go racing"
Wade made several attempts at convincing his wife to let him buy a Legends car. ,p>"Jimmy would talk to me about it and I would tell him I thought it was a little dangerous and I wasn't too sure about him driving," Melissa said. "What he didn't know was I had been enlisting the help of a friend and Legends racer to help me find a car to surprise Jimmy with for his 40th birthday."
Melissa, owner of Adrenalin Powersports, Inc. in Griffin, Ga., wanted to give Wade a stress reliever from his busy work schedule.
"Some weeks, Jimmy will work 60 or 80 hours," Melissa said. "What do you get a guy like that? You aren't going to get him a necktie or some socks. He needed a hobby. A hobby that would relax him and a Legends car was perfect."
After searching, Melissa located a car in Dallas, Texas and had it shipped to Atlanta.
"I surprised Jimmy by having a couple of his high school friends come in for his birthday and they played golf that day," Melissa remembered. "While they were out I was getting ready for the party. The car showed up just a couple of hours before Jimmy did. I was getting nervous."
"I was floored," Wade said about being surprised with the car. "I knew something was up as far as the possibility of a surprise party, but I had absolutely no idea about the car. I got a 1940 Ford Coupe Legends car on my 40th birthday; that's pretty cool."
Wade isn't as competitive as he would like yet, having driven in only a handful of races, but that hasn't stopped him from having a tremendous amount of fun.
"My buddy and fellow Masters Division driver Jim Daniels and I have had the time of our lives lately," Wade said smiling. "Right now we pretty much run at the back of the pack and both of us are bound and determined we are not going to finish last or get lapped, so it can get pretty intense."
Wade realizes better finishes come with time, but that is not Wade's priority right now.
"I really want to get my family more involved and I'd like for my kids to look into driving a car," Wade said. "It's a great family event and even some of my employees and their families are thinking about getting more involved in Thursday Thunder."
Wade's wish of family involvement may come true. His wife practiced driving a Legends car Wednesday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway and then competed on Thursday in the Chargers division.
"Jimmy and I might race the first year together and see how that goes," Melissa said. "Then we may look into getting our kids behind the wheel."
Fans can watch Wade chase his first Thursday Thunder win at Atlanta Motor Speedway this summer through August 3. Tickets for Thursday Thunder, Atlanta Motor Speedway's weekly Legends racing series, are available at Gate 13 (frontstretch Champions Grandstand) on event nights. Parking is free. Spectator gates open at 6 p.m. with preliminary action beginning immediately. Feature racing begins at 7 p.m. and concludes by 10:30 p.m.