Top 10 Can't-Miss Attractions during the NHRA Carolina Nationals
zMAX Dragway, the Bellagio of drag strips, is geared up to host the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals next weekend - the first of six races in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship. The fan-friendly, full-throttle spectacle features the top 10 drivers from Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle battling it out for coveted points and the first Wally of the 2017 playoffs.
zMAX Dragway's three-day showcase of raw power and blistering speed is like nothing else in sports. The 10,000-horsepower machines will barrel down the dragway at speeds greater than 330 mph Sept. 15-17. Every ticket is also a pit pass, allowing fans to enjoy the speed as well as up-close views of the fastest accelerating machines on the planet.
Here's a look at some things fans can't afford to miss when taking in the sensory overload that is the weekend of the NHRA Carolina Nationals:
School is in Session
First time at an NHRA event? Go to Nitro School, where some of the biggest names in NHRA drag racing help novices become nitro know-it-alls. Nitro School is an awesome, fan-based experience where fans can learn the ins and outs of what they're about to witness. In Nitro School, NHRA first-timers can learn about things like engine teardown as well as what it feels like to go from 0 to 330 mph in less than four seconds. Class is in session at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday morning in Nitro Alley.
Military Muscle on Display
Fans can take in a unique display of vintage power with military vehicles from WWII and on. This awesome display will include vehicles such as an 1986 Hummer, an M818 five-ton dump truck and a 1944 WWII Jeep. Several of these vintage rides will be featured in Sunday's First Responders Parade and on display throughout the weekend alongside a collection of Extreme Pro Stock cars, all located just inside the main entrance of zMAX Dragway.
Jet Car Jubilee
Running Friday night after the final Nitro qualifying sessions of the day, four jet-powered dragsters from Florida-based Larsen Motorsports will bring fans to their feet for a high-speed smoke show. The jet engine produces an awesome after-burn while the car tears down the quarter-mile drag strip at nearly 300 mph. It's an experience all fans can't afford to miss.
The Ultimate Race Day Upgrade
For just $99, fans can upgrade their tickets to be a part of the Top Eliminator Club. The ultimate race day experience includes daily meal service, driver appearances, VIP gifts and more. Join fan Q&As and autograph sessions with drag racing superstars like John and Courtney Force, Shane and Tanner Gray, Erica Enders and more throughout the weekend. Fans also receive access to a VIP rooftop viewing area, VIP parking and an exclusive Top Eliminator Club t-shirt.
Nitro Alley: Fun Delivered
Nitro Alley is every fan's one-stop destination for all things entertainment. Grab the latest souvenirs, meander through dozens of interactive vendor displays or tour the sprawling, 27-acre pit area and get up close and personal with hundreds of high-powered race cars; it's the place to be. The best part: it is included with the purchase of any NHRA Carolina Nationals ticket.
Fair Foods Fuel Fun
zMAX Dragway's food partner, Levy Concessions, is bringing a delicious lineup of food to this year's NHRA Carolina Nationals, and adding a few new culinary creations as well. The BBQ Sundae, a concoction of mashed potatoes, slaw and barbecue layered and served together in a cup, is a must-have. New this fall, the Candied Funnel Cake includes coated chocolate candy and powdered sugar along with chocolate syrup over a delicious, made-to-order funnel cake. This year's event also features two new food trucks. Ray's Philly Grill will have all of the fan's Philly cheesesteak needs covered, while the Zaroob food truck will debut a mouth-watering display of Middle Eastern eats.
First Responders Honored
Fans can come together to enjoy a parade and honor those who serve as part of the NHRA's 2017 campaign to honor first responders. The First Responders Parade, part of Sunday's pre-race festivities, will honor brave first responders who protect and serve both at the track and in communities across the country. The parade will include vehicles from multiple branches of service as a patriotic lead-up to the opening round of eliminations. Pre-race fun, including the track walk, is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Walk A Quarter-Mile In Their Shoes
Fans with a Sunday ticket to the NHRA Carolina Nationals will have a rare chance to join drivers and drag racing personalities for the Mello Yello Track Walk Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Just minutes before drivers take to the lanes for the opening round of eliminations, fans can walk the Bellagio of drag strip where history will be made and championship hopes for four lucky drivers will blossom later that afternoon.
No Pit Pass, No Problem
No upgrade needed! Every NHRA Carolina Nationals ticket serves as a pit pass. It's like being in the dugout at a baseball game or on the sidelines of a football game. Fans are right in the middle of the action all weekend. Watch as cars are torn down and rebuilt after each run, take pictures with the sport's best drivers and teams and grab an autograph between lightning-fast runs down the strip.
Elimination Sunday is where contenders and pretenders are separated. The NHRA Carolina Nationals is the first race in the Countdown to the Championship, so drivers and teams are looking to start off their title runs with a win. As the weekend comes to a close, the pressure will begin to rise. Countdown contenders will be leaving it all on the line to walk away from zMAX with a win and a chance at history and a championship title at season's end. Fans won't want to miss a second of the high-speed, high-adrenaline drama.
Tickets, camping and upgrades for NHRA Carolina Nationals event are available at the gates, by visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets/ or calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Don't miss a minute of the action with three day packages, starting at just $99, and kids 13 and under get in free with an adult ticket purchase.
Fans can connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway, zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track at Charlotte by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.