It was a phenomenon that hadn't been seen since the '60s-we're talking about four-wide drag racing, and with jet cars to boot. That was the scene at the inaugural Nitto Tires All-Star Nationals, the fifth stop on the 2009 NMRA-Keystone Drag Racing and Car Show schedule. The event included both NMRA and NMCA programs running together.
ZMax Dragway is the latest in the Bruton Smith empire of world-class racing facilities, and it's located in the heart of NASCAR country near Charlotte, North Carolina. The timing system, unfortunately, wasn't yet set up to run four-lane eliminations, but the jet cars put on a nice, four-wide show for the full house of NMRA and NMCA racers and fans.
The ProMedia officials kept both series separate, unlike the Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing a month earlier at Route 66 Raceway (Joliet, Illinois). But just like the Super Bowl event, the True Street field was paraded around the NASCAR track for its 30-mile cruise. The nearby Lowes Motor Speedway gates had opened up to the 43 True Street entries (31 Fords and 12 Brand-X), so they could make left turns and barrel down the straights like the NASCAR stars. And like the Route 66 True Street cruise, it was fun to watch drag racing-oriented machines humming through steep embankments while rolling on skinny front tires and DOT-slicks and drag radials in the back.
The heads-up and index-racing classes that make up the Keystone Automotive Drag Racing division of the NMRA was full of familiar faces. The extreme heat-over 100 degrees-certainly slowed down the cars and trucks, but it didn't hurt the close competition. Challenging track conditions also threw a curveball to the racers with soaring surface temperatures (140 degrees). Nevertheless, racers adapted and overcame the conditions to snag valuable points in the Nitto-sponsored Race for the Ring championship shootout.