Atlanta Motor Speedway Hosting Annual Open House May 12

HAMPTON, GA - SEPTEMBER 06: A view of race action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on September 6, 2011 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The countdown to Atlanta Motor Speedway's September race weekend opens with Saturday's open-house, featuring contests, activities, Legends car racing, and more.

Everyone knows that the wait for September's triple-header race weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway started once the track was cleared after Jeff Gordon's win in last year's Advocare 500.

The countdown officially kicks off this weekend, however, with the track's annual open house. Fans in the area can head to the track Saturday and take in all kinds of activities and Legends car racing, sign up for a variety of prizes, and even drive their car on the 1.54-mile track.

Yes, you read that right. You can take your car onto the same track Gordon and Jimmie Johnson dueled on last September. You can drive around the same circuit that has seen some of NASCAR's iconic moments and most fantastic finishes, all for $30 if you haven't bought your tickets for the Sprint Cup race yet. Those who have, guess what? You can do it for free. Everyone loves free stuff, but there's nothing cooler than being able to drive your car on a legendary NASCAR track for free!

And if you want to get your speed fix in, you can test drive a Legends car (for $50) or a Bandolero ($30) after the Legends race is over on the quarter-mile "Thunder Ring" located on the track's frontstretch. It is the same track the race will take place on and the same track that hosts Thursday Thunder throughout the summer.

Among the activities available for attendees are a classic car show, a Coca-Cola Pit Crew Challenge Trailer, activities for the kids like a rock-climbing wall, inflatable slide, and bungee jumping, and even photo ops with the pace car that will lead the field before the Advocare 500 and the trophy that one of NASCAR's finest will take home after the race.

Ever wanted to get behind-the-scenes tour of AMS? You can do that too. Just don't carry off a "souvenir." The track might need it.

As far as prizes go, they range from gift cards to music by Montgomery Gentry. The country music superstars were recently named the performing act at this year's Fast Cars and Guitars concert before the race. Lynyrd Skynyrd of course were last year's act, and they will be a tough act to follow after their stirring closing rendition of Free Bird as the rain that eventually delayed the race for two days fell.

The Grand Prizze fans will be looking to win is called the "Complete Advocare 500 All-Access Package." No ladies, all access does not mean your favorite driver's pre-race shower. Sorry. It does, however, include two tickets to the race, a reserved parking space, a stage front pass for the Montgomery Gentry concert, access to the Sprint Cup drivers meeting (!), and a guided tour of the garage (!!). You can't buy that kind of access - you literally can't, as the press release states clearly - so whoever wins the drawing will be getting a one-of-a-kind, once-of-a-lifetime experience they will no doubt cherish.

Since I probably won't win, congrats in advance to the winner. I hate you.

The trademark of any NASCAR fan is their love of collecting their favorite driver's merchandise. The Atlanta Motor Speedway gift shop will have 15% discounts on items all day, with an added 10% discount for folks who have already bought their tickets for September. In addition, there will be an inventory blowout sale, with some items marked down to one dollar. One dollar!

In short, the Atlanta Motor Speedway open house is not an event to miss. I hope to see all of you there!

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