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Thursday Thunder ready to get back on track

From staff reports

Atlanta summers heat up each Thursday with Thursday Thunder, Atlanta Motor Speedway's 10-week Legends, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing series. One of the most affordable family activities in Atlanta, Thursday Thunder is a bonanza of games, contests, giveaways and exciting racing. The 2004 season is set to kick off its seventh year of competition on June 3.

The series features some of the of the best up-and-coming drivers in the nation. Racers aged 8-68 come from all over to battle each night in eight different classes for the right to be called champions at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Former Legends racers include NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Casey Atwood. This year, the next Dale Jr. might be racing right here in the Thursday Thunder series.

There is also much more, including NASCAR tickets giveaways, Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-alongs, intermission activities and weekly contests. This year will feature the return of several popular theme nights as well, including the Faster Pastor race (June 3 and July 15), Rhubarb's March Across Georgia (June 17), Fireworks Fiesta (July 1), Mascot Mania (July 22) and Fan Appreciation Night (Aug. 5).

Here is a glance at the cars:

Legends cars are 5/8 scale versions of 1934, 1937 and 1940 coupes and sedans. They use 1200cc motorcycle engines and have a top speed around 120 mph. These single-seat cars weigh between 1,080 and 1,200 lbs. and are meant for drivers with some racing experience.

Bandolero cars are a smaller, lighter, slower type of race car meant for an inexperienced racer. They have a scoop hood and roof entry, and they look somewhat like a smaller version of a sports car. Bandolero cars also use motorcycle engines, a Briggs & Stratton Vanguard 570 cc, and their top speed is around 80 mph.

Thunder Roadsters look like the 1960s champ cars that raced at Indianapolis. They have a much longer wheel base than the Legends and Bandolero cars at 96 inches, and they use the same size engine (1200cc) as the Legends cars. These cars are also meant for more experienced drivers.

Tickets prices are just $5 for adults and $1 for children 6-12 (children under 6 are free) for each evening of fun and grass-roots racing on the paved quarter-mile Thunder Ring at AMS.

Information: (770) 946-4211 or visit www.legendsofga.com or www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.