Mason Massey, a 10-year-old driver in Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thursday Thunder racing series, is feverishly trying to add a very special trophy to his collection.

The 2006 Georgia State Bandolero champion is just one race away from claiming his first Thursday Thunder season title, a feat that in Massey's eyes would rank higher than his state title.

"Winning the Thursday Thunder title would actually mean more to me than the state title," the Winston, Ga. resident said. "Atlanta is a super-tough track and the competition is unreal there. It would be a blessing to win it."

Mayes Massey, Mason's father, is equally excited about the prospect of bringing home another piece of championship hardware.

"Atlanta is the toughest track we race on," the elder Massey said. "Both the competition and the track are the toughest there is. Ask anyone and I think they would agree.

"Winning the Thursday Thunder championship at AMS would rank right up there with winning the Georgia State championship because of the quality drivers you have to beat to do it."

Massey currently finds himself leading the championship points battle in the Zaxby's Bandits division, just five points ahead of Simpsonville, S.C.'s Kyle Benjamin. Ironically in 2004, Massey's last year racing a Quarter Midget, he lost to Benjamin in a heated points battle. Massey would like to exact friendly revenge by claiming the 2007 championship trophy at AMS.

"Kyle is a great friend of mine," Mason said. "We always race each other very clean and it would be pretty cool to win the title against a great driver like him."

Massey's father points to lots of seat time and getting Mason in a race car at a young age for his early and steadfast success. Climbing in a Quarter Midget for the first time at age 5, Massey's experience is deep, having literally raced half his life.

"I remember when Mason was 2 years old, taking him to the dirt track races and him telling me when he got big he wanted to drive a race car," Mayes said laughing. "Getting big to him was age 5 and that meant he could drive the Quarter Midget.

"We bought a Bandolero when he was 7 and practiced a lot so when he was 8, he could jump right in. We raced the Winter Flurry Series at AMS in 2005 and have called Atlanta our home track ever since."

Mason's father also attributes a portion of their success to Rusty Clanton, Mason's chief signal caller during Thursday Thunder. Clanton currently serves at the crew chief for ARCA RE/MAX driver Marc Mitchell and is the brother of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Joey Clanton.

"He is one heck of a wheelman," Clanton said of Massey. "Mason is probably the best driver at Thursday Thunder for his age and he is such a caring young man. He is a pleasure to work with."

Massey may currently be the most fervent driver on the track, but his father knows there will be a learning curve when Mason moves to a bigger, faster Legends car.

"Just like we bought the Bandolero before he was old enough to race it, I wanted to go ahead and get a Legends car now," Mayes said. "He is going to have to adjust to an entirely different car and learn how to shift gears. It is going to be a big move, so we want to start early."

After Massey works on mastering the Legends car, he wants to move to the Craftsman Truck Series where he enjoys the abuse the trucks can take and still keep running.

"The racing is just great in the Truck Series," Massey said. "It's side-by-side the whole time and the trucks can beat and bang and still race. It is great to watch."

For now however, Massey is focused on 20 more laps of feature racing at AMS during the final week of Thursday Thunder, which is all that stands between him and his first Thursday Thunder championship trophy. The checkered flag will fall on the 10th anniversary season of Thursday Thunder next Thursday, August 2, when champions will be crowned in each of eight different divisions.  

For more information about Thursday Thunder, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211.