Drag Racing: Will Four-Wide Tracks Catch On

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When O. Bruton Smith, the American drag racing mogul, built a new dragstrip in New Hampshire that had four side-by-side tracks intended for use at the same time, many in the NHRA said he was crazy. The sport-wide standard is to have only two cars racing at one time, and although many have proposed the idea of racing more than two vehicles, no one’s ever put together a track specifically designed for this purpose.

In reality, the zMax Dragway comprises two different side-by-side dragstrips that are separated by a short wall. However, the track is designed to have one car or motorcycle going on each track, all at the same time.

On top of that, the zMax Dragway has been built with Smith’s characteristic flair and opulence, which virtually guarantees that it will soon become one of the most popular tracks in the NHRA. In fact, it’s a good bet that we’ll see international racers coming in just to see this course and take a spin.

As for the doubters, the organizers of the sport say that they’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions in building this track. The center wall prevents the two cars on the left from crossing over to the right or vice versa, which essentially means that, should there be an accident, it won’t be any bigger than the crashes you see on two-wide tracks on a routine basis.

Still, some have concerns about the amount of noise that will be generated by the four-wide tracks. Followers of the sport are already well aware of the fact that NHRA racing can be damaging to the eardrums not only for the drivers and crews but also for the fans in the stands. Having four cars going at once is only going to make things louder.

But this hasn’t stopped the NHRA from going forward with plans to use the track. And in the end, although it may not be the best thing in the world for people’s ears, there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a crowd pleaser. Like many other sports, drag racing has been hit hard by the recent economic downturn, and organizers of the sport are hoping that bold moves such as this one will get fans back into the seats.

The four-wide track is also expected to change the ways that racers have to approach their game, but no one’s quite sure how this is going to work out. The only way to know for sure is to run some races and see how things go.

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