The analogy “home run” refers to an activity or event that touches all four bases. That analogy is certainly appropriate when it comes to last weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, where the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series enjoyed strong attendance, top ratings on ESPN2, unbelievable performances on the track, and great weather.
Attendance for the event was strong all three days, with the final attendance figures up 20 percent from 2011. The Speedway Motorsports Inc. facility in Charlotte, self-dubbed "the Bellagio of dragstrips,” enjoyed chamber of commerce weather, allowing NHRA fans the opportunity to enjoy the racing on the track and the plethora of activities in NHRA’s world-famous open pits.
Clearly the fans at home have responded to the unique and once-a-year format. The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals was the highest-rated show on ESPN2 on Sunday, with ratings up 27 percent from last year’s event. The Sunday broadcast received a .65 rating, with 897,954 viewers. The ESPN television production is unlike any other on the NHRA Full Throttle circuit, requiring an increase in cameras and personnel to cover the four-lane format.
Adding to the excitement all weekend was record-setting performances on the track in all four Professional categories as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. A number of national records were broken, none more impressive than that by Spencer Massey and the FRAM/Prestone dragster team, who took home the Wally in fine fashion. In the final round, racing alongside teammates Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and Antron Brown as well as Doug Kalitta in his Kalitta Air dragster, Massey put down a 3.802-second pass at 332.18 mph. With that run, Massey set the national speed record, one of several passes by Massey and Schumacher during the weekend that cracked the 330-mph barrier.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series takes a weekend off as it travels to Royal Purple Raceway in Houston for the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries April 27-29. To purchase reserved seats, call Royal Purple Raceway, 281-383-RACE (7223), or log on to www.royalpurpleraceway.com.