This weekend the fastest accelerating machines on the planet will launch into the first of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. The on-track action will be stellar, with conditions expected to be right for record-setting runs during the late qualifying session under the lights on Friday. But off the track, ticket holders will experience some of the best fan accessibility in any major sport and one of the NHRA’s greatest amenities.

Every ticket for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals is pit pass. Each and every fan to attend the event has the option to visit the pits during the event and witness the intensity of drivers and crews as they prepare their cars for the next pass. Imagine being able to stand along the sidelines of an NFL football game, or to visit the dugout to chat with the players during a Major League Baseball game.

“From a driver’s perspective it’s completely unique, because think about NASCAR. They suit up, they get in the car, and they stay in the car until the race is over,” said Jack Beckman, driver of the Valvoline Funny Car. “We suit up, get in the car, make a run, come back, interact with the fans, warm the car up, get back out, interact with the fans and we get to do that three more times during the day.”

Drivers often take a break to chat with the fans, take pictures and sign autographs.

“That’s something that’s unique about NHRA drag racing,” said Funny Car driver Mike Neff. “Every ticket is a pit pass. The fans are able to walk up right to the back of the ropes. Literally five feet from the cars, watch the guys take them apart, service them, be there when they warm up. To be that close, it’s unique, and the drivers go back and sign autographs. It makes it great for the fans.”

Fans have the chance to meet and get autographs from their favorite drivers, including Funny Car rookie Courtney Force, daughter of 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force.

“You don’t have to pay extra to go up and meet the drivers, take a picture and get an autograph,” said Courtney Force, driver of the Traxxas Funny Car. “It’s pretty amazing. Fans can come back, they can watch these crew guys tear down the car and rebuild it in only 70 minutes. They can stand right in front of the car when they are warming up and watch the driver do the warm-up, go through the motions, get ready to run. You can’t really find that anywhere else with any other sport.”

Fans of all ages can visit the pits, and while there, they can not only see each team, but visit sponsor displays and merchandise trailers along the famed Nitro Alley.

Tickets for kids 13 and under are free for all three days of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and while at the track, children can enjoy the giant Powerade Play Zone. The Play Zone, located just inside Gate 1, will include jet cars on display, race-themed bounce houses and plenty more for younger fans to enjoy.

Gates open at 7:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. Sportsman action starts at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Nitro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, final eliminations are scheduled to begin with nitro at noon.

Tickets and camping are still available for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 14-16 at zMAX Dragway, by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

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