Countless young men and women across America have dreams and aspirations of becoming a star on the NEXTEL Cup Series circuit and writing their name in the record books.
Others are simply racing in local series for a fun and entertaining hobby. Bennett, Ga.'s Carl Chapman is racing because he loves the sport and is spending his spare time at Atlanta Motor Speedway performing odd jobs around the Legends shop and prepping his car to race in Thursday Thunder, AMS' weekly summer racing series.
"I usually spend Wednesday and Thursday at the track," the 18-year-old Chapman said. "I help out around the shop and Dwight Pilgram, who is the chief mechanic in the shop, helps me set my car up. That is all the payment I need for helping out."
Most high school seniors are busy spending their summer lounging by the pool or engrossing themselves in a pointless activity, savoring every second of the day before they have to return for their final year of school. Chapman, a four sport athlete, has opted to spend his summer participating in various camps for football, baseball, basketball and track along with racing at AMS.
"Between the camps and the work out programs, I am staying real busy," Chapman said. "With Thursday Thunder and getting my car ready for that, I have a very full schedule."
Chapman, who drives two-hours one way to AMS to volunteer in the Legends garage, doesn't mind the busy schedule. He looks at it as an investment in his future and plans on racing Legends cars as a hobby long after his high school sports days are over.
"I know that this will be the last year I can participate in organized sports," Chapman explained. "Racing will give me something that hopefully I can do for many years to come."
Chapman's plans for the near future include going to the University of Georgia where he wants to major in Chemical Engineering.
"I am not going to even attempt to make a career out of racing," the realistic Chapman laughed. "It is just something fun for my father and I to do together, hopefully for many years to come."
Despite growing up around race tracks, Chapman wasn't always enthused about racing. His father Tommy, a regional sales manager for VP Racing Fuels was always taking Carl to different tracks and different types of racing.
"Carl never really was that interested in racing because he grew up having to go to different tracks constantly," Tommy said. "Recently, Dwight Pilgram let him test drive a Legends car around a parking lot and he was hooked."
Tommy, a Georgia state drag racing champion and former Dash Series champion, enjoys racing at AMS with his son and even makes Thursday Thunder a family affair, inviting his wife Barbara to join them each Thursday.
"We try and make it a family event each week," the elder Chapman said. "We even get my wife to come."
When asked what his wife's role each Thursday was, Chapman replied, "She just comes along and doesn't complain about anything. That is all we can ask for."
Racing hasn't been all fun for Carl, who after an early season wreck, was forced to raise the funds to fix his car himself.
"I spent my entire spring break taking 25,000-pounds of metal to the scrap yard," Chapman said smiling. "I got about $1,500 for it and used it to fix my race car. It was a really fun spring break."
While Chapman is racing only for fun, he does have one order of business that has a high priority.
"I have got to stop wrecking so much," Chapman said reflecting. "It gets expensive after awhile."
For more information about Thursday Thunder, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket offce at (770) 946-4211