Rainy weather washes out racing at Thursday Thunder

By Jeffery Armstrong

There was thunder Thursday night at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but it wasn't the racing kind.

A violent thunderstorm that rained down on the Southern Crescent forced the event to be cancelled for the night. The weather cooperated earlier in the evening during the heat races, but just as the feature races were about to start, the skies opened up.

The severe rainfall and lightning strikes lasted for 35 minutes before Brandon Hutchison, Director of Events at AMS, cancelled the event.

"We will run double features next week," said Hutchison. "The Week 7 races will run from the draw and the Week 6 races will run immediately after the Week 7 races are over."

Hutchison said the "Faster Pastor" race will take place next Thursday, if all the pastors can attend. He also said those fans who attended Thursday Thunder last night need to hold on to their tickets n they will be admitted free of charge Thursday, July 17 if they have their July 10th ticket stubs with them.

The thunderstorm washed away the hopes of Ryan McLeod, a Roadsters driver who made the five-hour trip from Concord, N.C. for Thursday Thunder.

"This is pretty bad for me and my family. We came all this way and I couldn't race," said McLeod, 20. "Hopefully, next week it won't rain and I can get to compete here."

McLeod, who races at the Charlotte Summer Shootout on Tuesday nights, was set to make his first Thursday Thunder appearance. He was one of three cars in the Roadsters Division.

"My car was pretty good overall; I just couldn't keep up with the other two drivers on the corners," he said. "They had bigger gears than I had, so they got me in the straightaway."

McLeod said he's been racing cars his whole life, starting with go-carts and then Legends cars. He loves to race and would love to do it professionally, but said it depends on whether he has the money to do it and get someone important in the business to notice him.

Semi-Pro Division leader Bubba Harry was glad the race was cancelled.

"I raced in rainy conditions once before and I didn't like it," the Griffin native said. "The rain gets in your carburetor and your car can start spitting and get all rusty. It's terrible."

Harry also said racing in these conditions can be rough because all the cars usually start sliding into each other due to the lack of traction.

"With the rainout, now I have time to get myself ready for Senoia on Tuesday," said Harry. "I also got hit in the back during the heat races so now I get the chance to work on my car and get it straight."