Fireworks on and off the track dazzle attendees at Atlanta Motor Speedway
The largest fireworks display on the south side of Metro Atlanta, the Papa John's Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza, exploded over the pit lane drag strip for a special July 4th running of the ever popular O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags and Show and Shine at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Wednesday Night.
With anticipation building for the dazzling display of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day at the Speedway, smoke first filled the air. Featuring the Super Pro division, the Peach Pass Burnout Zone pitted competitors against one another in a winner-take-all tire smoking burnout competition before they took off down the strip.
Working in a new engine helped Cliff "The Breeze" Waters of Jonesboro rise to the top of his division for the first round smoke screen he created behind the wheel of his 1985 Ford Ranger.
"This was a new motor so we had to get some heat into it and everything," explained Waters. "It was kind of a good deal to win it because it was somewhat surprising."
As Waters celebrated his victory, fans were treated to some high octante straight-line speed with the fastest cars making a trip down the pit lane drag strip early in eliminations. A break in the action midway throught he frist round allowed the night sky to light up with a spectacular fireworks display.
As the racing resumed on the pit lane drag strip, one of the most competitive divisions at Drags, the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman, saw Vincent Varela of Jonesboro in his 1979 Mazda RX7 collect the final round victory off a red-light by Jon Stoval and his 2006 Dodge Viper.
"Just trimming that tree down," said Varela when asked about his success in the early rounds to advance to the final. "It's the right set up. One-hundred, eighty-nine cubic inches against big blocks and small blocks - you can't go wrong."
For Varela, it was his first final round victory of the season in his second appearance of the season at Friday Night Drags in the Sportsman division.
Other noteable winners include Williamson's Doug Ragan and his 1993 Firebird as he collected the final round victory in the QuikTrip Pro division. Making his first appearnace at Friday Night Drags this season, Dayquan Demerite of Lilburm dominated the Diamond Resorts Factory Street Divison as he mowed down five competitors on his way to a final round victory over Eric Samples of Hampton and his 2018 Ford Mustang.
Below is a list of the July 4 race winners:
Super Pro: Tony Byrd (Stockbridge); 1986 Ford Thunderbird
QuikTrip Pro: Doug Ragan (Williamson); 1993 Firebird
Harbin's Mechanical Services Street Outlaw: Ross Cole (Sharpsburg); 1972 Chevrolet Camaro
Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman: Vincent Varela (Jonesboro); 1979 Mazda RX7
New Edge: James Walker (Fayetteville); 2016 Dodge Charger
Street Performer: Brandon Sampler (Griffin); 1995 Chevrolet S10
Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic: Andrew Morgan (McDonough); 1987 Ford Mustang
Street Modified: Kelly Morgan (Jonesboro); 1968 Ford Mustang
Diamond Resorts Factory Street: Dayquan Demerite (Lilburn); 2017 Chevrolet Camaro
Diesel Truck: Taylor Wilder (Locust Grove); 1994 Dodge Ram
Starfire Automatic Gates Truck: Ed Blandford (McDonough); 1968 Ford F100
Tuner: Shane Kirkland (Marietta); 1983 Datsun 280ZX
Sport Compact: Tyler Hatchett (Griffin); 1991 Honda CRX
Super Bike: Graham Mayo (Griffin); 2007 Hayausa
Sport Bike: Jy'rec Givens (Stockbridge); 2006 Suzuki GSXR 1000
US Marine Corps Motorcycle: Avery Leslie Jr (Jonesboro); 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 600r
ATV: Rob Allsop (Winston); Yamaha
Peach Pass Burnout Zone: Super Pro Division, Cliff Waters (Griffin); 1985 Ford Ranger
The Show-N-Shine competition featured everything from new imports to classic muscle cars and automobiles ranging as far back as the 1930s. Those vehicles then took part in the Speedway Cruise following judging.
Classic Custom (Through 1972)
First Place: Ken Moore (Griffin), 1936 Plymouth
Second Place: Bridget Fouts (Milner), 1955 Chevy 210
Third Place: Donnie & Gina Harris (Conyers), 1937 Chevrolet 2 door Sedan
Showroom Mondern (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Chris Gallagher (Fayetteville), 1998 Pontiac Trans Am
Second Place: Matthew Ryan (McDonough), 1980 Chevrolet Corvette
Third Place: David Garton (Fayetteville), 1995 Cobra R
Modern Custom (1973 through 1999)
First Place: Tristen Frazier (Panama City, FL), 1973 Caprice Classic
Second Place: Cleston Cox (Hampton), 1995 Mustang GT
Third Place: Chandler Hatenett (Griffin), 1997 Ford Mustang SUT Cobra
Current (2000 through current)
First Place: Brian D'Arez (Newnan)
Second Place: Flex (Fairburn), 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Third Place: Mike Harrington (Locust Grove), 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP
First Place: Luke Bowen (Dawsonville), 2015 GMC Sierra 2500 HD
Second Place: Bruce Calhoun (Griffin), 2013 Dodge Ram 1500
Third Place: Jimmy Landburg (Atlanta), 2004 Chevrolet Suburban
First Place: Jose Lopez (Griffin), 2011 Joe Gibbs Racing Freightliner
Second Place: Andy Sarrat (Social Circle), 1958 Cushman Motor Scooter
Third Place: Joshua Shapiro (Lilburn), 1989 Nissan Skyline
Atlanta Motor Speedway's O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine is idle this Friday before returning to the pit lane drag strip on Friday, July 13th for the Southeast Gassers Association Nostalgia Night prestned by Harbin's Mechanial Services. Grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m., and nightly drag race eliminations start just after 9:00 p.m.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is just $20 or competitors can purchase a combo ticket for $30. Spectator tickets are just $10, and children 5 and under are free. More information can be found at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags or by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211.