When Bruton Smith announced the building of what was to be the Bellagio of drag strips, few doubted the masterful raceway owner would pull off the feat.
When the headstrong Smith stood up to the City of Concord government officials in their bid to stop the building of the track, even more doubted he would walk away the winner.
Four years later, it’s obvious the race fans have been the true benefactors to Smith’s vision and headstrong approach to building the unique four-lane zMax Dragway on the hallowed motorsports grounds next to Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Four years seems like an eternity ago when you reflect upon the significant records zMAX Dragway holds both on and off the track,” said Christian Byrd, general manager of zMAX Dragway. “The team at zMAX Dragway takes a lot of pride in providing the best customer experience in motorsports and we will continue to improve as we move forward.”
zMax Dragway opened on August 28, 2008 with a ribbon cutting ceremony outside of normal. Instead of dignitaries standing around with a giant pair of scissors to cut the huge ribbon, Pro Stock racers Dave Connolly and Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove through the ribbon signifying the completion of the facility.
The inaugural O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, staged a few weeks later, set a three-day NHRA attendance record and played host to equally impressive performance records on its all concrete race course.
Top Fuel racer Tony Schumacher recorded his 53rd career victory to pass Joe Amato as the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel win leader.
One year later the facility completely sold out for an episode of the drag racing television show PINKS. A month later the NHRA expanded their involvement with zMax Dragway to two events in 2010, one of which would be Smith’s vision of a four, instead of two, lane event.
The inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, highlighted the 2010 season as the first ever four-wide event in NHRA history. Legendary Funny Car driver John Force, Top Fuel pilot Cory McClenathan, Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith all picked up wins in the historic event.
While much of zMax Dragway’s milestones are from performances on the track and filling the grandstands, new technology was introduced in 2012. The NHRA introduced a new style of Christmas tree.
Instead of the conventional two rows of pre-staging and staging bulbs, the new Tree includes one row of four large circles of LED lights indicating the pre-staging and staging of the cars in all four lanes.
Later this same season Matt Hagan ran the first Funny Car pass under four seconds [3.995] since nitro racing went 1,000 feet. A total of three national records fell, including the speed record in both Funny Car and Top Fuel.
This season zMax Dragway tested the waters of more active participation of all forms of the sport including 16 open test and tune dates, a six-race bracket series and an eighth-mile American Drag Racing League.
This year, the records continued to pile up with Spencer Massey becoming the first Top Fuel driver to top 330 mph at the 1,000-foot mark. Robert Hight became the first Funny Car driver in history to record four consecutive event wins and Greg Anderson became the winningest pro driver in zMAX Dragway history by notching his third win at the track.
With the NHRA coming to town in three weeks, Byrd expects even more accolades. He’s already begun planning for 2013.
“Looking forward to 2013 there will be some great additions to the track calendar,” promised Byrd. “I have spent all year talking to fans, racers, and other promoters to make next season our best ever.”
All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.
|< Prev||Next >|