Burning rubber, white smoke, nitro fumes and 30,000 plus fans and smiles were at the grand opening of the zMax Dragway in Concord, NC. This exquisite state of the art facility has set a new standard for drag racing. Owner and developer Bruton Smith nicknamed this raceway, "The Bellagio of Drag Racing." One could only feel that this new track and its innovations are going to lead this sport into the major leagues of racing as far as television exposure and media coverage.
The track has state of the art communications for track officials and press, an innovative 4 lanes instead of two, to be able to run preliminaries in a lot less time. This small innovation goes against the history of drag racing, so it was no small feat for the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) to approve this change.
I have spoken to drivers, NHRA fans, team executives, vendors and other experienced pros and they concur that this track now sets the standard.
The main difference between NHRA drag racing and NASCAR is pit access and access to the drivers. I was able to just walk down an area of the pits and had an opportunity to meet Melanie Troxell, one of the top women drivers of the sport and one of the few names I had known before today. In a day when sports stars are kept away from fans this is a luxury.
In spite of the gas prices and economy, 30,000 fans showed up, many driving more than a few hundred miles in their RV's and campers to stay right on the grounds. Again, one of the fun things to do with your group of friends.
There are many classes of racing from funny cars to motor cycles the the Nitro injected dragsters raced by pros Tony Schumacher, Doug Herbert and Hillary Will (some of the drivers, I had a chance to personally meet before race day).
There is an adrenaline rush which is equivalent to watching a rocketship take off, part fascination combined with a powerful rush of sound and fury. No matter who you are, the sensory experience is nothing you can imagine unless you are there on the track.
After a few hours at zMax, NHRA has found a new fan!. Great job! SMI! and NHRA! You set a new standard with your vision.