From staff reports
Myron Guyton has visited Victory Lane three times this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway, becoming the first African-American driver to win there. Now he wants other African-American drivers to experience the same thrill of victory.
Guyton, 35, owns several Burger King restaurants in the Atlanta area and hopes to bring young racers into the sport through his stores.
"I want to have contests and give away a chance to try to drive a Legends car," Guyton said. "When we find drivers who want to go further, we'll help them out. This isn't a cheap sport, so if you take the money aspect away, it'll be more enticing. I can't wait to get kids working with these cars. When they get excited, I get excited. I want to help them make their dreams come true like I had a chance to."
Guyton feels fortunate he's had the opportunity in his life to chase his dreams, no matter whether they were on the football field or on the quarter-mile track, Thunder Ring, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Guyton began his football career at Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville, Ga., then continued on to Eastern Kentucky University. He was drafted in 1989 by the New York Giants, winning a Super Bowl with them in 1990. He continued his professional career with the New England Patriots, retiring in 1996.
After football, Guyton turned to another sport. He's been racing with the Thursday Thunder series for the past four years, winning his first race during the first week of this season.
It's a hobby Guyton has been able to pursue thanks to his success in football and in business. But he realizes not all children will have the opportunities he's had.
"For many minorities, getting into something like Legends racing is simply not financially feasible," he said. "We look to change that. I want to get into this deeper. I want to get the drivers and the pit crews be the one to initially get them into the sport. Hopefully then I can find someone to help me take them to the next level."
The man Guyton has in mind is not a stranger to diversity programs or Thursday Thunder.
Tinsley Hughes was a co-owner of BH Motorsports, which briefly fielded a Winston Cup team last year and aspired to be the first minority-owned Winston Cup team running fulltime in 2003 before financialissues forced them to put their plans on hold.
Hughes also owns the No. 007 Roadster driven by Kyle Beattie during Thursday Thunder at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Summer Shootout at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I'm going to do this with or without his help, but Tinsley would be a huge bonus to this program," Guyton said. "He wants to work with set-ups, fabrication, marketing and the whole deal, not just getting a driver in a car."
Guyton first had the idea to start a Legends series-based diversity program two years ago but found he didn't have the time to put a program together the way he wanted to.
"I was so involved in the business end of things with my restaurants at that time that I didn't have time to devote as many hours to the program as it deserved," Guyton said. "I knew I'd have to devote a lot of time to this to make it effective and I'm glad I finally have the time now."
Guyton will try to return to Victory Lane this Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway's eighth week of Thursday Thunder Legends, Bandolero and Roadster racing, which will be presented by Z93. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Tickets for adults are $5, ages 6-11 are $1 and children under 6 are free. Call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 770-946-4211 for more information or visit the www.atlantamotorspeedway.com website.