Drivers Energized About Another Chance to Run Four-Wide at zMAX Dragway
The annual spectacle of four-wide drag racing, introduced for competition in 2010, returns to the Bellagio of drag strips April 14-17 for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
NHRA drivers have had a year to analyze the heart-pumping excitement of last year’s inaugural VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway and they are thrilled for another chance to bring home the Wally in Charlotte, N.C.
“I’ve learned that four-wide is mass confusion,” said 15-time NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion John Force. “The key is to forget about the other three drivers because there’s nothing you can do about them; you need to race your car and yourself to win.
“The racetrack and its four lanes are entertaining everyone like never before,” Force continued. “It’s great for the fans to have something different on the tour and it’s a refreshing change that I love.”
Force was the winner of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals last March at zMAX Dragway and is excited about returning to such a beautiful facility.
“I love all the drag strips we get to go to, but no track compares to what Bruton Smith has built in Charlotte,” he said. “The facilities, lounges, seats and everything about that track is second to none. Bruton Smith and his son Marcus are building the future of drag racing and we love every second of it.”
When the Top Fuel dragsters go four wide, seven-time NHRA Full Throttle Series world champion Tony Schumacher will lead the way. He echoes Force’s exhilaration when looking forward to the event.
“This race is so exciting and so much fun and I’m really looking forward to getting there,” Schumacher said.
“It’s a ton of noise and because it’s me versus three other guys instead of just one, I’m really going to have to dig deep for the victory. We have the right team and the right cars to get the job done this year. I’ve won at Charlotte before, but I haven’t won four-wide and I am excited to go back and try to take that trophy home with me.”
Fellow Top Fuel competitor and driver of the Matco Tools dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, Antron Brown, also shares the sentiment of his nitro-methane brethren.
"You can't leave anything on the starting line, you have to go out there and throw down,” Brown said. “We have to be on top of our game and be focused because you're not just concentrated on racing one opponent, now it’s three more guys out against you. This is winner take all so there is no time for second place."
Defending 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon may not have won in the 2010 VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, but he is the last man to hoist a Wally in the Top Fuel division at zMAX Dragway last September, in the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. Dixon has no plans to step down from his spot at the top.
"Points are on the line and championships can be won or lost at this event,” said Dixon. “There is no room for error and we are taking all we learned from last year and analyzing it in order to give us the best opportunity to take home a win. Four-wide racing is definitely just as demanding for the teams as it is for the drivers. It’s a challenge, but our Al-Anabi team is up for it.”
Finishing the weekend in victory lane is the goal of every driver in drag racing, but the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Champion and North Carolina native, Greg Anderson, knows that it is also important to appreciate the incredible facilities at zMAX Dragway.
"zMAX Dragway is the most beautiful race track we go to on the circuit and it means the most to us because it is our home track,” he said. “We don't have to pump ourselves up to come here because the place does it for you. The newness will never wear off for us because this place is a jewel. zMAX is truly the crown jewel facility of drag racing."
Die-hard drag racing fans will have the chance to see this crown jewel up close and personal as they walk alongside drag racing legends Shirley Muldowney, Kenny Bernstein, Don Garlits and Connie Kalitta on Sunday, April 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. prior to eliminations.
Fans that purchase a $45 or $55 Sunday grandstand ticket can share a walk down the world’s only four-lane concrete drag strip with some of the biggest names in drag racing history.
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee and renowned NHRA Champion Kenny Bernstein is one of the featured legends taking part in the Four-Wide Legends Walk at zMAX Dragway.
"The legends walk will be a special moment for me because those people are great friends of mine and to be able to walk with them and all the fans will be a ton of fun,” Bernstein said. “I love to mingle with the fans and see their passion up close and personal. Whether it’s the 60 year anniversary or the 100th, it's always a pleasure to have the fans come and enjoy themselves at the race track."
Even the younger drivers like 29-year-old Matt Hagan, who finished second in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Funny Car points standings in just his second full season in the class, knows how important it is to honor the drivers that helped pioneer the sport of drag racing.
“Anytime four legends of that caliber get to come back and mix it up with the fans means a lot to everyone, including us drivers,” said Hagan. “They are the people who laid the foundation for NHRA and made it possible for us to be able to race. It’s vital that we pay tribute to everything they have done for the sport.”
The Four-Wide Legends Walk will be a unique and fun opportunity for the fans, but Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel driver and Larry Dixon teammate, Del Worsham, knows that the fans are there to see heart-pounding four-wide action. He plans to give race enthusiasts everything they hope for.
“The spectators get the whole thing of 32,000-horsepower racing at the same time which has to be just maximum sensory overload for them so it’s definitely different for the fans,” said Worsham. “I hope it ends up a really exciting race and everyone’s talking about how great it was. Our Al-Anabi team will just go out there and do what we do best, win.”
Built in 2008, zMAX Dragway is the only four-lane, all concrete drag strip in the world. Located across U.S. Highway 29 from Charlotte Motor Speedway and adjacent to The Dirt Track at Charlotte, zMAX Dragway seats 30,000 spectators, covers 46.5 acres, features two pedestrian tunnels under the strip and a 34,000-square-foot starting-line tower.
Tickets for the second annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 14-17, are still available and can be obtained by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or online at www.zmaxdragway.com. Fans can buy three tickets and get one free for any day or buy two tickets, two Coca-Colas and two hotdogs for just $60.