Surrounded by men who were among the first to respond at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force unveiled a commemorative 9/11 paint scheme today at zMAX Dragway in advance of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-18.

Force's Castrol GTX High Mileage/Honoring Our Heroes Funny Car will pay tribute to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice on Sept. 11. He will race the special paint scheme only at the Bellagio of drag strips, during the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

"It has been ten years since those terrible attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and in Pennsylvania," Force said. "I try to thank firefighters, policemen and members of our armed forces every chance I get. To be able to unveil and then race this unbelievable Funny Car is a real honor for me and my whole organization."

Force was joined at the unveiling by a dozen retired NYPD and FDNY personnel and their families, all of whom relocated from New York to the Charlotte, N.C., region. Each of the men was among the first to respond to the scene following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

The group of 9/11 first responders will serve as Grand Marshals for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and participate in pre-race ceremonies.

"This is a great opportunity to honor the memory of those we lost ten years ago and pay tribute to the 9/11 first responders for their efforts," said Marcus Smith president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We're honored to have this type of presence in the Charlotte area and it's only right to recognize these heroes at our NHRA event."

zMAX Dragway is honoring all first responders with a buy two, get two Free ticket offer for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-18. All first responders, including police, fire and EMS personnel, can call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1 (800) 455-FANS (3267) and ask the ticket agent for the first responder ticket offer.

The six-race NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship postseason begins when the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to zMAX Dragway, Sept. 15-18, for the fourth annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.

In honor of the NHRA's 60th anniversary, fans can purchase two tickets to any day for a total of only $60 and receive a choice of a free upgrade: two 60th anniversary hats; two 60th anniversary shirts; two beer vouchers; or two Coca-Cola soft drinks and two hot dogs. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or online at www.zMAXDragway.com.

Connect with zMAX Dragway and stay up to speed with all the happenings at the Bellagio of drag strips on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zmaxdragway and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zmaxdragway.