ZMAX Dragway, home of the upcoming NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals as well as the NHRA Carolina Nationals in the fall, turns 10 years old this May. Here’s a timeline of significant events at the famed facility.
Groundbreaking, Feb. 5, 2008: Bruton Smith, founder and chief executive officer of Charlotte Motor Speedway, and several local politicians were the first to break dirt before an excavator took over. A total of 1,876 workers representing 57 companies were involved in the construction. Together they worked 636,000 combined man hours, averaging 300 workers on site for-near 12-hour workdays, allowing the 13-month construction project to be completed in only six.
First “race,” May 24, 2008: Several NHRA drivers visited the dragway's construction site. To no one's surprise, a race broke out and when the dust settled Funny Car driver Mike Neff edged out a victory over teammate John Force in the first unofficial race at zMAX Dragway.
Ribbon cutting, Aug. 20, 2008: NHRA Pro Stock drivers Jeg Coughlin and Dave Connolly used their race cars to officially open the dragstrip with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony.
NHRA Nationals, Sept. 11-14, 2008: zMAX Dragway's first major event with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was not only a huge success for the track, setting a three-day NHRA event attendance record, but was also a historic weekend on the track as well. Tony Schumacher recorded his 53rd career victory to pass Joe Amato as the NHRA's all-time Top Fuel wins leader. He was joined in victory by Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Justin Humphreys (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Four Wide at PINKS All Out, April 25, 2009: zMAX Dragway made history once again by hosting the first-ever nationally televised four-wide drag race as part of the popular television show PINKS All Out.
First NHRA Four-Wide race, March 26–29, 2010: For the first time in NHRA national event history, qualifying and eliminations for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle were conducted four-wide instead of two. Cory McClenathan, John Force, Mike Edwards and Matt Smith were victorious in the four-wide spectacle.
First three-second Funny Car run, Sept. 16, 2011: Funny Car driver Matt Hagan ran the first three-second pass in Funny Car history during qualifying for the 2011 NHRA Carolina Nationals, a 3.995.
First European wins at zMAX Dragway, April 13, 2014: Jimmy Alund became the first European winner at zMAX and only the fourth non-American winner in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The Swede was substituting for four-time Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson, who was sidelined for heart surgery.
First woman wins at zMAX Dragway, Sept. 20, 2015: Pro Stock driver Erica Enders scored the first victory at zMAX Dragway by a woman and 19th of her career to pass NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney on NHRA’s all-time women’s win list.
Pro Mods race four-wide for the First Time, April 28, 2017: The NHRA Pro Mod class raced four-wide for the first time at the 2017 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Mike Castellana collected the win.