Martinsville's not the only place for some fine racing action

As a kid, open wheel and stock car racing were my passions. I'd plan my spring and summer Sundays around races and even became a big fan of a local realtor's half hour Sunday homes show because it usually came on right before a race.

Drag racing was off the radar screen. Sure, I read the briefs in the paper the next morning, but until a few years ago, I didn't start seeking out any NHRA events on the television.

My interest slowly grew, and I had the chance to cover my first drag race at Heartland Park in Topeka last year. I was hooked.

Due to the unseasonably hot weather, no one could make any full length passes down the strip because of the lack of grip, but for this first-timer, that didn't deter the rush when a car did make it the full 1,000 feet.

And it wasn't very often when both cars made it down the dragstrip under full power, so I can't imagine what it would be like to be a fan at the inaugural Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte this weekend.

The NHRA ran a four-wide exhibition last year to rave reviews, so it was a no-brainer to run a full weekend four wide.

If you're any type of race fan, you need to go to a NHRA event at least once. The Midway may be the coolest thing to experience in the racing world and you don't need pit passes to be right in the middle of the action.

The haulers and base camps are set up to where you can be within mere feet of one of the cars as they're being tuned, and if you thought a NASCAR or IndyCar race was loud, you've never been on the Midway. The roar of the engines can only be described as deafening and you can see some of the best hair and fashion statements of the racing world as you mill around.

I can't wait to get back to Heartland Park this year for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals. It sure as heck beats watching it on television.

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