Each summer racers of all ages take to Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thunder Ring to chase high-speed thrills in Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's.

On one end of the spectrum there's drivers as young 8 years old competing in the Racing Radios Bandoleros; on the other end there's drivers like Dennis Hecht, a 74-year-old scratching an itch for racing that first developed more than five decades ago.

"I actually raced my parents' car at one point, unbeknownst to them, and from there that developed into an interest in road racing," Hecht, from Hoschton, Ga., said. "I spent three or four years road racing, then work and putting a roof over my head got in the way. So the next 43 years I spent earning a living, but my interest in cars continued throughout that period of time."

The competitor in Hecht lay dormant until five years ago when the former road course racer saw some short track oval racing that piqued his interest.

"I happened to see Legends cars on TV and I thought it looked interesting and arranged for a test drive," Hecht recalled. "I asked how I could get involved in actual racing and I was told to buy a car and get started.

"So that's what I did."

Once again behind the wheel of a racecar, Hecht found himself learning a new discipline of racing and knocking off a few decades of rust.

"You have to get used to driving between two big walls, which was something new to me. There's more horsepower than there is tire to handle it," Hecht said. "It's a constant learning experience. I'm still trying to get faster and I'll continue to do that and try to improve my finishing positions as long as I race."

It's a challenge Hecht says he's gladly taken on in his five years racing in the Wallace Electric Masters division, thanks in large part to the welcoming racing environment at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"It's given me something to do, for one thing, and it's given me the ability to continue a lifelong interest," Hecht said. "I've met a lot of nice people. It's been an excellent area to meet families, to meet people that have the same interest. I would recommend it to anybody."

The Thursday Thunder Legends Series presented by Papa John's continues with its seventh night of racing on a special Wednesday night this week on July 3. For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211, 877-9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.