Preview: The Spectacle That Is The NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, Apr. 13-15

spec·ta·cle noun. a public show or display, especially on a large scale.

There’s no better defining term for the unique NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at the zMax Dragway in Concord, NC, where the proverbial hammer is dropped on 32,000 horsepower in collective unison as not two, but four land-locked missiles blast to more than 300 MPH on their way to what’s become one of the most coveted and challenging race victories of the season.

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the xMax Dragway April 13-15 for the third annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, where the cars and stars of the world’s fastest motorsport will compete four abreast in the most unique and exciting racing event in the world.

This year’s edition will mark the third annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals as a full-fledged part of the NHRA national event schedule. Following the ribbon-cutting at the state-of-the-art zMax Dragway in the heart of NASCAR country in 2009, the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals featured a pair of four-wide nitro exhibitions prior to the final rounds that captured drag racing headlines everywhere.

The ultimate vision of track owner and race promoter extraordinaire Bruton Smith, a second event was added to the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle schedule – the 4-Wide Nationals – that would feature four-wide drag racing at an NHRA national event for the first time. Cory McClenathan, John Force, Mike Edwards, and Matt Smith were the winners of that successful but certainly controversial inaugural running that presented a challenge unlike any other that drivers had faced in their careers.

“We came here with the opinion that we need to be able to go four-wide, we need to be able to understand the lights, and I had a certain way that I went about it all weekend long,” said McClenathan. “I kept the same plan, and it worked out for us. I was happy with the whole thing.”

Said Force, “This is a little taste of history. This was special, like beating the dragsters at Bristol [at the 1999 Showdown between Funny Cars and Top Fuelers]. Thanks to Bruton and Marcus Smith. They took the money and spent it to make this happen.”

Smith echoed those sentiments, stating “I love this four-wide deal. I’m glad that NHRA and Bruton [Smith] did this. It was fun, just like NASCAR having road races. It was a different atmosphere.”

Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the reigning champions of the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, and while Worsham has moved on from his driving career to tune for popular Funny Car rookie Alexis DeJoria, Beckman and Anderson are busy preparing to defend their titles at zMax.

Worsham, who went on to win the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle championship, defeated teammate Larry Dixon, Spencer Massey, and Shawn Langdon by mere inches in the four-wide final a year ago, running a stout 3.81. While Dixon had the advantage out of the gate, it was Worsham with the quicker elapsed time to claim the title by a margin of .0048-seconds.

Beckman, meanwhile, downed a collection of surprise single-car team finalists that included Bob Tasca III, Tim Wilkerson, and Jim Head with the quicker of the four reaction times and the quickest of the four runs – a 4.120 at 309.63 MPH.

In Pro Stock, Anderson, in front of his hometown crowd, drove his Summit Racing Pontiac to the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals crown in an incredible two-car sprint to the finish, defeating Greg Stanfield by just .005-seconds, 6.556 to 6.559. A returning Dave Connolly and rookie Vincent Nobile trailed the Greg and Greg show.

“I love this racetrack, and the best part of it is it’s home for me.” said Anderson.

Nineteen Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars are pre-entered for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, led by points leaders Antron Brown and Robert Hight and a field of hungry racers looking to displace them atop the points standings as the season draws into full swing. In the factory hot rod category, points leader Greg Anderson and teammate Jason Line will be joined by 23 other competitors in a class often decided by mere inches and only magnified by the four-wide format.

In addition to the NHRA Full Throttle Series professional classes, the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals will also feature the always-entertaining NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx and a full slate of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competition, including the 260 MPH Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars, Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and the exciting Top Sportsman class.

The zMax Dragway and the NHRA are offering a number of special ticket offers and seating packages to this once-a-year spectacle, including great savings on 3-Day packages,  Top Eliminator Club seating, one free admission with the purchase of three Adult tickets, and much more.

To purchase your tickets or for camping information for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals April 13-15, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit zMax Dragway on the web.

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About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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