On Thursday nights each summer, Atlanta Motor Speedway's Thunder Ring is where young racing dreams become reality.

"I like NASCAR - I have since I was little," said 9-year-old Baylor O'Neil. "My dad would always bring me here."

"My son and I have been coming out to NASCAR ever since he was three or so," said Baylor's father Ryan O'Neil, of Grantville. "We just love racing."

That love of racing led the family to Thursday Night Thunder presented by Papa John's last summer. Wowed by the racing and the friendly environment in the garage, Baylor and Ryan started to look into the AMS Legends program.

Before they knew it, they had a Bandolero racecar and started running offseason events. Now Baylor is taking part in his first season of Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's, racing his No. 99 car in the Racing Radios Rookie Bandolero Division.

"It's a lot different from just being at the track. It's a lot more fun being in the car," said Baylor. "I still had a blast just roaming around, but every time I would come here I would say, 'I want to get in a Bandolero car and race.'"

Accustomed to seeing racing's biggest stars at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Baylor has high hopes as he starts his own racing career and goals he wants to reach this summer on the Thunder Ring.

"I want to accomplish some more wins and get better at handling traffic," said Baylor. "My dad's always like, 'Give them racing room and they'll give you racing room.'"

Meanwhile his family is cherishing the moments they're sharing and watching their son grow.

"His first race he was two laps down, so the next race we said, 'Okay, here's what we need to work on,'" recalled Ryan. "Then he worked on getting on the lead lap, then a top-5 finish, and then he started winning.

"It's exciting and it's overwhelming for both my son and I," added Ryan. "But everybody's awesome here. Everybody's nice, they help each other out; it's a great sport and a great thing for the kids to get into."

Baylor and his family will keep learning and chasing victories when Thursday Thunder presented by Papa John's Pizza enters its second week of racing, featuring back-to-back nights of action-packed features on the Thunder Ring.

Infield admission is available for spectators wishing to watch the action on Wednesday, June 5, and grandstand tickets for the affordable, family-friendly racing action on Thursday, June 6, cost just $5; children ages 5 and under are free.

For more information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211, 877-9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.