I have done some calculating and I figured that it's been around 15 years since I'd been to a drag race. The last time was during my college years at Moroso Motorspeedway in South Florida. This week I was given some tickets by some friends of mine and we had a free weekend, so the four of us headed out to zMax Dragway after church on Sunday morning.There were quite a few things that impressed me about our afternoon. First, every ticket was also a pit pass. We were able to walk right up to the cars and their drivers at almost every turn, except for when they were just about to get into their lane. I saw numerous people walk up to drivers and ask for photos right next to their cars. The teams do not have garages, so they simply set up their haulers, pull out the awning, then work on their cars and motorcycles right there on the spot. So you can watch every team work on their cars when they are not on the track.
The crowds were not nearly as daunting as a NASCAR race, so you can stroll through the vendors with much more ease and comfort and interact more with the people in each sponsor tent. For instance, we often stopped by the ARMY tent at the NASCAR races, but here we got a more full experience. One of the men working there offered to take this picture of me and the boys in front of their drag racer. The people working the tents seemed very hospitable and made a point to talk with the people who were wandering in their section, without being pushy.
The people there were extremely hospitable. I know that some of them were trying to promote their product, but even the concession and the ticketing (and bag checking) and the workers in the kids/inflatables section were very friendly. My six year old even asked one of the TRAXX models to get a picture, and she was more than happy to oblige!
Lastly, the actual drivers were super friendly! My wife and son were watching the motorcycles make their way back to the pits and one of the riders asked my four year old son if he wanted to sit on the bike. He courageously hopped on and Hector Arana Sr. pushed him about 50 feet back to his pit stall. My son smiled and waved at the people who walked by as if he were in a parade. About halfway back to his hauler, a random lady stopped in front of his bike, which made him stop, and she asked him what happened. It didn't take us long to realize that he had just LOST his race and was no longer in the competition; but here he is smiling and giving my kid a ride. Needless to say we are now fans of the Lucas Oil team. One of his sons that was also in the race, Hector Arana Jr., ended up winning the competition. The incident with Hector reminded me of the time that Nationwide driver Jeremy Clements took time to get my sons name and talk to them, like a real person, and not a fan. (See here and here for JC blogs.) It's guys like these that keep the sport alive for the fans.
And oh yes! The RACING! They say a picture is worth a thousand words- but how about a video or two? Here's one of the regular drag racing cars and another of the funny cars. We casually grabbed a seat about 14 rows up and enjoyed the races. We are definitely looking to repeat our NHRA experience next year!