Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags will be bringing several changes to the competition for the 2013 season, with one major addition highlighting the racing action on the pit lane drag strip.

In addition to a new 250-foot concrete launch pad, racers will be launching from the starting line at the command of a brand-new starter tree. Atlanta Motor Speedway has added the starting light after six complete seasons of hand-flagged starts that were reminiscent of drag racing’s early days in the 1960s.

The success of the weekly street drag racing program has led to competitors and fans alike to ask for a way to make the action more competitive, and AMS officials have responded with this newest wrinkle to the competition.

The tree is a Race America 2650 Dual Lane XL Advanced Pro Drag Race Starter Tree. The starting line beams will set competitors in pre-start and staging lights.

If a car interrupts the beam before the green light is displayed, a red light will appear and the driver will be disqualified. This move eliminates the starter official’s decisions on jumping penalties. The starter tree will operate in the "Pro" format, with random intervals for the yellow lights prior to the green. The “Pro” format will have all three yellow lights illuminate prior to the green, while the random interval will range between two-tenths of a second and five-tenths of a second. All divisions will compete using the “Pro” format.

“After considerable discussion, we have determined that adding the Christmas Tree starting light will guarantee an equal and competitive level of competition for all who compete when our 2013 Friday Night Drags season opens on April 26,” said AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark.

While the fans will see even starts for the drivers, it is the competitors themselves that are most excited.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said defending Super Pro champion Mike Herring. “It eliminates human error and it’ll help resolve a lot of conflict. Nobody thinks they left early when they get caught, so I think it’s going to be a good thing. And with the new concrete, we can leave with a little more power, so the cars will pick up a bit more speed. I’m looking forward to this year.”

The new surface and starting light system will debut on the opening night of the seventh full season of Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, April 26. The weekly series will feature street-style drag racing for all makes and models of cars, trucks and motorcycles. Similar vehicles will be placed within divisions competing in a nightly, single elimination tournament for trophies and bragging rights.

Each week’s drag racing show also includes a Show-N-Shine open competition car, truck and motorcycle show, featuring a number of class awards, speedway cruise and fan showcase.

Events are set for April 26, May 3 and May 17 with the 2013 points season opening on May 31 and continuing through Aug. 16. The speedway will also once again host the Friday Night Drags Fall Stampede on Sept. 13 and 20.

For more Friday Night Drags information, divisional rules and Show-N-Shine specifications, visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags or call the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX or (770) 946-4211.