Week one of the 2012 Thursday Thunder racing series at Atlanta Motor Speedway got off to a rousing start last week, with two first-time winners making their way to victory lane. Drivers from nine different states traveled to AMS to take part in the season opener for the 15th season of Thursday Thunder racing. This week, the racing intensity will turn up a few notches as in addition to the regular program, Pro Stock Hobby Cars will do battle on the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring.”

This year’s addition of double-file restarts via the “Choose Your Lane” rule enhanced the excitement of the racing last week, with each restart bringing close-quarters racing and the occasional bumping and banging. With one week of the nine-race season in the books, each driver in every division will be looking to improve upon last week’s racing fortunes as it is never too early to be concerned about points positioning and the chase for the ever-elusive season points championship.

Several drivers turned in very dominant performances last week, giving the other drivers in those respective divisions a clear idea of who could be the top dog in 2012. Quickly learning who the driver to beat also allows the other drivers to gear up and know who they need to be beating on a weekly basis. Skip Nichols, Joshua Hicks, William Plemons III, Riley Thornton, Taylor Jorgensen, Mason Massey and Buddy Brewer all took home checkered flags last week, and the field will surely be gunning for each driver in week two.

$1 Concession Menu – Thirsty Thursday

Thursday Thunder has another special treat for fans this week as Thirsty Thursday debuts for 2012. Customers will have the opportunity to enjoy a dollar concession menu featuring 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola products, assorted candy, bags of chips and hot dogs for only $1. Beer will also be available for purchase for just $2.

Included with the low price of admission, Thirsty Thursday only adds to the unbelievable value of racing and family-friendly activities for all age groups. A family of four with two children under the age of five can attend Thursday Thunder, with each family member enjoying a hot dog and Coca-Cola for just $20!

Pro Stock Hobby Cars to Battle on “Thunder Ring”

Fans looking for a Saturday night short track taste of racing will be in luck this week at Thursday Thunder, as full-bodied V8 Pro Stock Hobby Cars will invade AMS to tackle the tight confines of the quarter-mile “Thunder Ring.” This will be the first of two appearances for the Pro Stock drivers in 2012.

Pro Stock Hobby Cars are full-size racing machines with plenty of horsepower, much like you would see at a Saturday night short track or local dirt track. These cars won’t be afraid to swap paint as they do battle to get to the front on the “Thunder Ring.”

“The excitement is there,” said Griffin’s Scott Conaway, one of the drivers leading the charge to get the Pro Stock Hobby Cars out at AMS. “Lots of people want to do it. The speeds are down, but we will beat and bang and it won’t damage the suspension.”

Conaway noted that the tight confines and less banking of the “Thunder Ring” is an appealing element for himself and other racers, as the emphasis becomes less about the car and more about the driver’s overall ability.

“We want a place to race where our handling is non-existent and it’s put in the driver’s hands,” said Conaway. “You can have a big block engine and can’t go any faster. It’s all in the brakes, wheels and tires. I want a class where anyone with a $1,500 car can come out and go against my $6,500 and be within a tenth of a second.

Conaway notes that many racing machines are currently available for affordable prices, enticing those who may want to get involved to get a car of their own and bring it out to AMS. On a tighter surface, the more cars on the track, the tougher it will be to pass. A larger car count will only increase the excitement out on the track.

“I’m extremely excited. When I was practicing, it was a blast to drive. It was slippery all the way around. I was able to slide it getting in, keep it sliding all the way through the corner.

“I think the fans would love to come out and watch these cars go around because it’s so tight. It’s going to be a good action-packed class. This will give the fans a chance to see what we are all about. We’re going to give it our best.”

Entertainment and Prizes

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, the Papa John’s Pizza Fireworks Extravaganza on July 4, Thirsty Thursdays, 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. All grandstand seating is smoke-free in 2012. Gates open each night at 6:00 p.m. and feature races begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visitwww.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.