Photo by Derrick Mahone
New Jersey native Abby Price hoped to have made her debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder to make a “dream come true.”
HAMPTON — Abby Price’s curiosity has given her a “dream come true” hobby.
After her older brother declined their father’s invitation to start riding motorsports equipment, Price decided to give it a try.
“I was just curious as to how it would be,” Price said Wednesday evening inside the garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“My brother didn’t want to ride the car my dad bought him. I was like, ‘I’ll give it a try’, and now it has become the greatest hobby for me.”
Price, a New Jersey native, races on the dirt tracks in the Pennsylvania and New York areas. Wednesday she got her first taste of driving at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thunder Ring in anticipation of racing in Thursday Thunder.
“It was really fast,” Price said at a 20-lap test drive in a borrowed Bandolero racing car. “I’m really excited.”
While her sixth-grade schoolmates were in class, Price flew down to Atlanta for this “lifetime dream” of racing in a Thursday Thunder event. All this was made possible by her friendship with NASCAR driver David Ragan, and his father, Ken.
Ken attends the same church in Perry as Price’s grandmother Jean O’Connor. She had told the elder Ragan about her granddaughter being a huge NASCAR fan. Two years ago, Price attended a Thursday Thunder race and became curious about driving on the AMS track.
“I sat in a car two years ago, and wanted to race,” Price said.
Ragan put out a few calls to some longtime friends and secured a car and crew chief for Price. She hoped to make her Thursday Thunder debut on yesterday, if the weather permitted.
Regardless of the outcome, Price is thrilled with the opportunity to race on the same track of NASCAR drivers.
“I’m not that nervous,” Price said. “I’m just excited, and happy to have the opportunity. I’m going to make the most of it, and appreciate the outcome.”
O’Connor is also excited for her granddaughter.
“I’m very proud of her,” O’Connor said. “I’m a little nervous though. Ken made it happen.”
And Ragan was impressed after seeing her during the practice runs.
“She is a natural,” said Ken Ragan, who is also a former NASCAR driver. “She had a lot of car control. She is right impressive.”
In her dirt track league, Price races in an adult league where she routinely finishes “in the middle” of the pack.
Price, 12, said her classmates back home are jealous of her opportunity.
“They’re in school, and I’m getting to do a dream I’ve always wanted,” Price said. “This is almost like Christmas. I’m trying to take all this in. I know it will be over in a flash. I know this is a huge opportunity, and I’m thankful to Ken and David Ragan for making it happen.”
And Price is encouraged about her future in racing. With the emergence of Danica Patrick on the NASCAR circuit, she sees where females can compete on this level.
“Because of her, now I know girls can make it on that level,” Price said. “Now I have that chance.”