HAMPTON, GA – The 2013 season launch of Friday Night Drags & Show-N-Shine at Atlanta Motor Speedway brought several new faces out to the eighth-mile pit lane drag strip. A few of the newcomers were able to unseat some of the experienced FND racers as the new concrete launch pad and starter light tree proved to be a challenge on opening night.
Among the new winners, one driver in particular overcame a hefty obstacle to join the competition and walk away with his first-career trophy in his first start on opening night, Friday, April 26.
McDonough's Michael Moffett was first introduced to Friday Night Drags in 2012 as his business, The Zone Sports Bar, sponsored Mark White's Super Pro entry. White, known at FND for his candy apple red Shelby Mustang that he pilots, also owns another 1967 Shelby that was sitting idle in the garage. A former dirt bike racer, Moffett entered into an agreement with White to put Moffett behind the wheel of his other vehicle.
The two began work on the car to bring it up to par for competition. But things changed dramatically in September of last year. The exact date, September 11, memorable for other reasons, is a date that Moffett won't soon forget. It was that day that he was diagnosed with Stage IIIB colon cancer. Moffett underwent surgery for the disease in October and in November, began chemotherapy for 50 hours every other week.
Determined to race, Moffett would not let this setback interfere with his desire. "On my off week (from chemo), instead of sitting around and rotting like most people do, I started practicing and learning how to drive the car," said Moffett. "You can't just jump in and do burnouts and accelerate a car with that kind of power."
Moffett finished his last treatment a couple of weeks ago, and then sat behind the wheel at Friday Night Drags for the first time this past Friday. The results were shocking to both the competition and the competitor alike. Aside from the health issue Moffett fought through, he said the team was not sure how the car would run due to having had a short amount of time complete all the work necessary to make the car competitive.
The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for the McDonough business owner. But he's enjoyed each time he's sat in the car and is at a loss when looking back at the recent events.
"I don't even have an answer for it," said Moffett. "It's crazy. It was one of the highest highs. Finishing chemo and getting a clean bill of health, and then doing that (winning Friday night), I don't have a word for it. I'm getting chill bumps talking about it . . . kind of a crazy story.
"I had a friend come out (Friday) and he was crying. My family was there. It's touching, very touching. To do that (finish chemo), be competitive, to win, to beat people that have been racing here five to 10 years . . . it's a miracle."
This Week at Friday Night Drags, with the new concrete launching pad adding rubber with each pass down the eighth-mile, the racing will only get better each week as the season heads deeper into the summer. Drivers also praised the addition of the brand new starter light, adding a level playing field across all 18 divisions at Friday Night Drags.
This week's Friday Night Drags includes the popular Kids' Power Wheel Races on the speedway's ball field grass. Kids need to bring their fastest Power Wheel machine, along with a helmet, to this week's Friday Night Drags to help AMS determine the fastest kid in town. Parents and kids are instructed to bring their Power Wheel to the pit ramp near the starting line at 8:15 p.m. Races will take place at 8:30 p.m. All participants will receive a commemorative Friday Night Drags medal.
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.