One of the most successful weekly racing programs in the country returns this Thursday, June 7 as Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder returns to the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring” for eight weeks of short-track racing this summer.Seven divisions of racing machines will compete for race wins and the overall points championship that will be awarded at the end of the season during nine events in eight weeks, with each night featuring various activities, feature events and entertainment for the whole family.

A main criterion in making Thursday Thunder so successful is the long list of alumni that have graduated from the proving grounds of the “Thunder Ring” and into higher levels of racing. For many racers, Thursday Thunder serves as the high school equivalent of their particular sport of choice. It can often be the final stop before moving into some form of professional motorsports. Thursday Thunder alumni Joey Logano, David Ragan and Reed Sorenson have parlayed their experience at AMS into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rides. Countless others have made it to various levels of racing, with many more to follow.

New Twists Added to Competition in 2012

Most racing fans know that restarts are often the most exciting time for passing and racing in close-quarters. Thursday Thunder is adding a new bit of excitement to the competition this year with double-file restarts with the “choose your lane” rule. Prior to the green flag on restarts, a “choose” cone will be placed on the frontstretch, and drivers will be required to either go high or low. While the inside line has historically been the fastest way around the “Thunder Ring,” this method of double-file restarts will give guys further back in the pack the chance to gain track position and enhance the racing when the green flag drops.

Both Pro Stock Hobby Cars and Thunder Roadsters will make their return to the quarter-mile this season in preparation for the Legends Asphalt Nationals being held at AMS this fall, Oct. 25-27. Pro Stock Hobby Cars will hit the track on June 14 and July 12, while the Thunder Roadsters return July 5 and July 19. With Atlanta Motor Speedway hosting the Legends Asphalt Nationals this year, drivers from across the region and country will look to compete on the AMS surface during Thursday Thunder in order to gain track time and experience at the speedway. Add in the fact that Atlanta will be hosting the Legends Asphalt Nationals in October, and this year’s racing will bring out the best in the drivers all season and will turn up the wick in the competition in 2012.

This Season at Thursday Thunder

As always, Thursday Thunder will provide spectators and families with exciting racing action in a family-friendly atmosphere, all at an affordable price. This year’s Thursday Thunder will feature smoke-free seating throughout the grandstand, a new change for 2012. Those wishing to smoke will have designated areas in the concourse to do so.

AMS will host two Thirsty Thursday nights on June 14 and July 12 providing fans a dollar concession menu. 12 ounce cans of Coca-Cola products, assorted candy, bags of chips and hot dogs will all be available for customers for only $1. Cans of beer will also be available for purchase for just $2.

The annual fan favorite Papa John’s Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza will return in 2012 with a special night of racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Thursday Thunder will run on Wednesday, July 4 where fireworks will be part of the show. The Thursday Thunder drivers will then be back to compete on the quarter-mile the following evening on Thursday, July 5.

Henry County school principals will vie for the title of “Fastest Principal in Henry County” on July 26 as Thursday Thunder hosts the “Back 2 School Bash” at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Principals from various Henry County schools will do battle in equally-prepared vehicles on the quarter-mile. Students from each school are encouraged to come out and cheer on their principal and show some school pride.

Included with the racing and entertainment are concourse activities and weekly driver autograph sessions. Weekly entertainment includes the kids’ candy and coin scramble, favorite sports team uniform night, classic race car displays from the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, Pro Stock Hobby Car racing, Thunder Roadster racing, School Principal Races, the annual Faster Pastor race between local church leaders and more.

Fans in attendance each week can enter to win weekly NASCAR ticket giveaways with a grand prize to be drawn on championship night, July 26. Each week through July 19, one fan will win two tickets to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, Aug. 31. During the July 26 Thursday Thunder, one lucky fan will win a trip to all three days of racing under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The grand prize winner will receive two tickets to each night of racing at AMS, weekend parking, two weekend pit passes and two pre-race party passes to the Fast Cars & Guitars pre-race concert featuring Montgomery Gentry. Fans can register each night at the information booth on the concourse.

Fans of all ages have extra incentive to be at Thursday Thunder this year. Kids can join the free Monkey Wrench Club and by showing their membership card each week at Thursday Thunder, card holders can receive a stamp that can entitle them to a free ride in the pace car at the end of the Thursday Thunder season. Kids must attend at least eight of the Thursday Thunder races to receive the pace car ride.

Adults may also get in on the fun by receiving their own Thursday Thunder card and getting it stamped each week. Adults who receive at least seven stamps during the Thursday Thunder season will earn a free NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race ticket for Friday, Aug. 31.

A family can take in an evening of racing action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for less than what it would cost to see a matinée movie. Tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing series costs just $6 for adults, $2 for children ages six through 11 and is free for children ages five and younger. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

For more information on Buzz Cars racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Events Department at (770) 946-3954.

To test drive your own Legends machine, or for more information about Legends racing, call Legends of Georgia director Dwight Pilgram at (770) 707-2977 or visit www.legendsofga.com.