The new zMAX Dragway at Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) today through Sunday will host the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals, and Cabarrus County (NC) and LMS officials indicated that fans are "expected to spend about $13[M] during the four days" of competition, according to a front-page piece by Jefferson George of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Cabarrus tourism officials "expect more than 20,000 spectators today and Friday, and as many as 30,000 -- a capacity crowd -- Saturday and Sunday." NHRA President Tom Compton said the NHRA is "bigger than you might think." LMS officials said that seats for Saturday's session are already sold out, and "only a few tickets remain for Sunday." While drag races last only a few seconds, there are "contests throughout the day." In addition, "fans can get closer to drivers and crews because each ticket is a pit pass." Compton said that attendance at races "grew by more than 10[%] nationwide last year," and fans "spend three to five days at events." Officials "eventually hope to hold at least one big event each month at the dragway" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/11
START YOUR ENGINES: In Charlotte, Sarah Aarthun reports the zMAX Dragway "held its grand opening party Tuesday night" and those in attendance included SMI Chair & CEO Bruton Smith, NFL Panthers WR Steve Smith, NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, retired pro wrestler Ric Flair and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who "brought his orange Lamborghini for a try at the new strip" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 9/11).