zMAX Dragway History
The ribbon was cut at zMAX Dragway on Aug. 20, 2008. The NHRA visited the Carolinas in front of a standing-room-only crowd as zMAX Dragway's first major event was held Sept. 11-14, 2008 with the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series breaking in the immaculate facility.
The inaugural O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals was not only a huge success for zMAX Dragway, setting a three-day NHRA event attendance record, but was also a historic weekend on the track as well. Tony Schumacher recorded his 53rd career victory to pass Joe Amato as the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel wins leader. The other national category winners were Jack Beckman in Funny Car, Justin Humphreys in Pro Stock and Steve Johnson in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
In early 2009, the popular television show PINKS All Out came to zMAX Dragway with more than 500 cars competing in front of yet another sold-out crowd, there to witness cars race four wide for the first time at the Bellagio of drag strips.
In August 2009, officials announced that in 2010, the NHRA would visit zMAX Dragway for two national events. The following month, in September, at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, officials hosted a first-of-its-kind, NHRA-sanctioned, four-wide exhibition race, featuring drivers who were eliminated in the first round.
The inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, highlighted the 2010 season as the first ever four-wide event in NHRA history. The 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.
In addition to hosting two NHRA National events and PINKS All Out, the facility also hosted a variety of street-legal races, allowing everyday fans to race their personal cars.
In April 2011, the NHRA brought its 60th anniversary celebration to zMAX Dragway, along with an unprecedented lineup of NHRA legends, including “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Kenny Bernstein and Connie Kalitta. The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals also marked the debut of the NHRA’s new 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 to indicate the pre-staging and staging of the cars in all four lanes.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals launched year four in fine fashion, as the event saw cool temperatures, prompting record-setting passes. Matt Hagan ran the first Funny Car pass under four seconds, with a 3.995. A total of three national records fell, including the speed record and the in both Funny Car and Top Fuel.
At the 2012 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Spencer Massey became 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.
The summer of 2012 included more NOS Energy Test-N-Tune events than ever before and the introduction of a bracket racing series, NOS Energy Mayhem @ the MAX presented by Kooks Custom Headers, JE Pistons and Roush Yates Performance Parts.
The ADRL enjoyed record-setting performances during its successful debut at zMAX Dragway the first weekend in August.
That fall, Shawn Langdon raced to his first career Top Fuel victory at the rain-delayed O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at zMAX Dragway. Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned victories in their respective classes after the first of six playoff races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
zMAX Dragway kicks off a busy 2013 with the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals April 19-21. If conditions are right, NHRA national records could be in danger, yet again.