Just a week ago, the NHRA tour was in Charlotte, contesting a four-wide event at the beautiful zMAX Dragway – a monument to how big drag racing can be.
Atlanta Dragway has the difficult position of following up that circus. The Arby’s Southern Nationals felt like a different series in comparison.
This is a basic venue, one of the most simple on the tour. The location isn’t beautiful, though it is convenient to hotels and restaurants in nearby Commerce. The track surface is showing some age, as are the facilities for fans. But this place does have history; it has been part of the tour for a long time.
I had the feeling that this event was about going through the motions. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having to back up a big race just a few days later. Maybe it’s the humid and hot weather.
But next year is the 40th anniversary and I can see the potential. While zMAX is an absolute palace, it can lack soul. Atlanta Dragway remains an intimately sized venue that has the ability to generate atmosphere in a way that other venues can’t. I hope that ahead of the 40th running of the event there will be some special features announced for the race, or perhaps even some upgrades to the venue to improve fan comfort. With one of the biggest cities in the USA just down the road, there is no reason Atlanta Dragway shouldn’t be able to sell out.
For now though, enjoy our photo review of this year’s Southern Nationals!