zMax Dragway @ Concord
Labeled the “Bellagio of drag strips” for all its amenities, the zMAX Dragway @ Concord is set to host the lightning-quick cars of the NHRA POWERade Series in September and several other events as it roars into its second season. Purchase your ticket for one of the 30,000 seats in the John Force grandstand and you will get an up-close and personal racing experience that’s not available in other forms of motor sports.
Drag racing offers an exciting departure from the stock-car racing that has built a worldwide reputation for the Charlotte area. From the smoky burn-outs to the snap of the parachutes that are deployed to slow the cars at the finish line, getting down the track the quickest is the name of the game, and in this game that means less than five seconds.
The speeds the cars reach in the short distance they run are what drops most spectators’ jaws and sets them apart. Cruising down the interstate at 70 mph, a passenger car rattles off each quarter-mile in about 13 seconds. At the drag strip, Top Fuel cars will cover that same distance in about 4.5 seconds at 320 mph - all from a dead start. Now compare the speeds of the drag cars to the cars that dominate the other two tracks at Charlotte Motor Speedway complex. The fastest NASCAR Sprint Cup cars qualify at the 1.5-mile track at about 180 miles per hour. Across U.S. 29 at the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, top winged sprint cars get around the .4-mile track in about 12 seconds, or 120 miles per hour.
But all the action at zMAX Dragway @ Concord doesn’t happen on the strip. Unlike other forms of racing where fences keep teams and fans apart, every ticket is a pit pass. In between rounds, walk over to the pits and see first hand - and from only a few feet away - what it takes to keep the drag cars running. You will smell the grease and feel the heat as crews thrash to rebuild engines between rounds. Watch as winning drivers and crew chiefs plan changes to make their car even faster for the next run, and be sure to buy a T-shirt to show who you are cheering for on the track. Just don’t get too caught up in the action and miss the next set of eliminations.
If you don’t want to steer the family car down the quarter-mile but still want to know what it’s like, sign up for the Doug Foley Drag Racing School. Like its counterparts across the street at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the school offers several packages - you can go for a ride in a two-seat dragster or after some classroom training, take the wheel for yourself.
Tickets for events at the zMax Dragway @ Concord can be purchased online or over the phone. To reserve your seat or view a complete schedule, visit www.zmaxdragway.com, www.NHRA.com or call 1-800-455-FANS.
By Peter Anderson
By Peter Anderson
added: December 10, 2008
updated: March 2, 2010