Atlanta Motor Speedway's family-friendly Thursday Thunder racing series returns to the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" for the 16th season, bringing affordable entertainment to local race fans.The 2013 season kicks-off June 6 and runs each Thursday night through July 25. This year's eight-week, 10-event schedule includes racing on July 4 and the Papa John's Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza.

Affordability

Cheaper than a matinee movie, the summer racing series will once again combine intense short-track racing among the future stars of racing with the excitement of interactive games and promotions for fans. Six different classes of Legends and Bandoleros will tackle the infield short track at AMS.

Two nights of Thursday Thunder will host double feature events. These nights, on June 6 and July 11, will afford fans twice the racing and twice the fun at the same low ticket price that customers see each week.

In addition to the double features on July 11, AMS will host Scout Night at the Races. Boy and Girl scouts in uniform will receive free admission to the evening's action, adding even more value to the already bargain ticket costs.

Competition

Last season saw the introduction of double-file restarts with the "choose your lane" rule prior to restarts. This rule gave drivers further back in the pack the opportunity to gain track position and challenge for the win.

In addition to the return of double feature race nights, this season Thursday Thunder will introduce the Checkered Flag Challenge. This special race will be run each event night in addition to the regularly-scheduled feature races. It will be open to all drivers without a previous Thursday Thunder feature victory. There will be one race for Legends cars and one race for Bandolero cars, and a trophy will be awarded to the winner of each respective race. Once a driver wins the event twice, they will be ineligible to compete for the remainder of the season.

The United Sprint Car Series will feature a Sprint Car Showcase on June 13 as a warm-up for the debut of Sprint Car racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday, Aug. 30, as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 weekend.

Entertainment

Everyone will have the opportunity to cool off on June 27 with the Summer Splash night. With activities ranging from a belly flop contest to a water balloon toss, fans will enjoy racing while showing off their aquatic abilities.

The annual fan favorite Papa John's Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza will return in 2013 with the south side's biggest fireworks display on Thursday, July 4. That night will also feature a large autograph session with the drivers of Thursday Thunder during the break between heat racing and the feature events.

Speaking of cooling off, AMS will bring a little holiday cheer to the racetrack on July 18 with Christmas in July. Santa Claus will be on-hand to check out the racing action, plus the speedway will be playing the role of old Saint Nick himself by giving away Christmas gifts to lucky attendees.

Included with the racing and entertainment are concourse activities and weekly driver autograph sessions with various divisions of competition. Weekly entertainment includes the kid's candy scramble, the kids' bike, trike and power wheel race, the lucky 13 & superstition night and more.

A Proving Ground for Future Racers

Thursday Thunder racing on Atlanta Motor Speedway's "Thunder Ring" has proven to be a training ground for future NASCAR stars, a fact that speaks to the series' quality of racing. For racers, Thursday Thunder serves as the equivalent of high school athletics. For many drivers, Legends racing at AMS serves as the final step before moving to a professional level of racing in some capacity.

Former Thunder champions Joey Logano and David Ragan are current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars. Other current and former NASCAR drivers to race on Atlanta's "Thunder Ring" include Bill Elliott, Reed Sorenson, John Wes Townley, Ty and Austin Dillon, Chrissy and Steve Wallace, Max Gresham and Joey Clanton, among others.

2013 Thursday Thunder Schedule

Thursday, June 6
Opening Night
Double Features

Thursday, June 13
Lucky 13 & Superstition Night
USCS Sprint Car Showcase

Thursday, June 20
Kid's Candy Scramble

Thursday, June 27
Summer Splash - Belly Flop Contest, Water Balloon Toss and more

Thursday, July 4
Papa John's Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza
Driver Autograph Session

Thursday, July 11
Scout Night at the Races - Boy and Girl Scouts in uniform get in free
Kids' Bike, Trike and Power Wheel Night
Double Features

Thursday, July 18
Christmas in July - Santa Claus appearance, Christmas Gift Giveaways in the Grandstand

Thursday, July 25
Championship Night
Kid's Candy Scramble