HAMPTON, GA – When the grass begins to grow, the temperatures warm and the azaleas begin to bloom, race fans know that it's time for another season of Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine. Another year of action in the country's most successful weekly drag racing program opens tonight.
Entering its seventh full season of action, the eighth-mile pit lane drag strip will be heating up just like the spring temperatures as the speedway awakes from its winter slumber.
18 divisions of drag racing will inch to the starting line this week with hopes of earning an overall season points championship, as well as looking across the way at a fellow racer, with bragging rights and winner's trophies on the line as each driver pulls the belts tight for a final time.
Seven classes of Show-N-Shine entrants will also be judged prior to each night's racing action. Each contestant will take a couple of laps around the speedway during the track cruise, and will then park their cars on the frontstretch for a fan viewing.
What's New in 2013
The racing surface and competition side of Friday Night Drags will feature a couple of new wrinkles as drivers roll onto the grid for the first time on Friday night – the new concrete launching pad and the addition of a lighted starter tree.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has paved the pit lane with a 250-foot NHRA-quality concrete launch pad. This area will extend from the burnout box through the starting line, and will continue nearly 100 feet past the starting line. The launch pad was designed and completed by Frank Taylor, a former two-time Super Pro division champion at Friday Night Drags.
This surface change ensures drivers of increased traction at the starting line, which adds more power and more speed for vehicles leaving the line. In addition to fans having a better product to watch, drivers will see reduced tire wear and can make their rubber last throughout the year.
Another major change to the scene for Friday Night Drags competitors will be the addition of a brand-new starter tree. Drivers will launch from the new concrete surface at the command of a "Christmas Tree" for the first time in series history, a move that was made at the request of both competitors and fans to make the action more competitive. Starts will now be judged via laser beams, removing the starter official's decision on jumping penalties. The light will operate in random intervals for the yellow lights prior to the green.
Big Opening Weekend for AMS with Drive the Track Day on Saturday, April 27
Fans are also encouraged to join Atlanta Motor Speedway staff on Saturday, April 27 as part of the speedway's opening weekend of racing for 2013. In addition to Friday Night Drags, AMS will host a Drive the Track Day the next morning beginning at 10:00 a.m. Anyone that has purchased a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 ticket for Sunday, Sept. 1 can take their own vehicles around the speedway for a few hot laps. A $30 donation to the Atlanta chapter of Speedway Children's Charities will also be accepted for access to the track ride.
Following the ride, fans are encouraged to visit victory lane and have their photo made with the AMS pace car, NASCAR trophy and mascot Monkey Wrench. Then at 2:00 p.m., those in attendance can watch a full Legends and Bandolero racing program from the infield.
Plenty of Excitement This Season at Friday Night Drags
With new changes to ramp up the competition this year, Friday Night Drags will offer the racers a better chance to show off their skills in 2013, as well as afford the fans even more action on the track. With a large car count expected to be in attendance to check out the new changes to the starting area, defending champions, FND veterans and a few new faces are all expected to make their presence known on opening night. Many drivers have spent the winter working on their cars, putting in both money and effort into their prized racing machines.
This year's Friday Night Drags features several shootout nights between various divisions of competition. Included in the lineup for entertainment this season are Kids' Power Wheel Races, the Kids' Candy Scramble, the Ugliest Truck Contest, Fourth of July Fireworks, a High School Date Night and more. A full schedule of activities and events can be found on www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags.
The 2013 Friday Night Drags season runs most Friday nights through Aug. 16, with the Fall Stampede taking place Sept. 13 and Sept. 20. Practice runs begin at 6:15 p.m. and grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show-N-Shine car show judging begins at 6:15 p.m. with a track cruise at 8:20 p.m. Drag racing eliminations begin at 9:15 p.m.
All racers ages 16 and 17 must have a fully-executed minor's release form on file at the speedway prior to competition and forms are available at the speedway or at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com. Competitors must wear a DOT-approved helmet and have operational seat belts in their vehicle and pass a pre-race safety inspection.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is $20 or competitors can enter both for $30. Spectator admission is only $8 with children five and under free. Exterior parking is free, while infield parking is $20.
For more information on Friday Night Drags or Atlanta Motor Speedway, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags.