Lost and abandoned drag strips have become a huge part of my life, as I continue to make progress on my new book. I’ve photographed a few abandoned tracks, but I had the opportunity to make a trip to North Carolina this weekend to investigate a couple more tracks. While I was in the Charlotte area, I thought it would only be fitting to visit Charlotte’s abandoned Shuffletown Dragway, as well as one of the newest (and biggest) drag strips in the country, zMax Dragway.
The journey started on Friday evening, as Christina and I packed up and headed east to Asheville to spend the night with her sister. After a night of less-than-stellar sleep, we got up early and continued our eastward journey before finally landing in the small town of Hudson, North Carolina. From there, the GPS took us to the site of Hudson Drag Strip, which closed in the mid-90s. Unlike many of the tracks I’ve photographed so far, this one has been left mostly untouched during its 20 years of abandonment. Although rough in condition, all of the original buildings were standing and the track surface was in decent shape–it’s as if the owner left and never came back.
Then, we set off toward Charlotte, so we blasted through town to make our way to Concord, the home of Charlotte Motor Speedway and the area’s newest motorsports attraction, zMax Dragway, located right across the street from the NASCAR track. It is truly an amazing facility, but being there on a test and tune day didn’t provide the true feeling of visiting a mega-track. Less than 50 cars participated in the test session, but my main reason for going was to watch the Aaron’s monster truck attempt to break the top speed record, which was 93mph. With Randy Moore at the wheel, the Aaron’s truck made it to 97.80mph, just a few mph short of their goal of 100. We didn’t stick around long, as we had more things on our agenda for the day.
We blasted through Charlotte again and made it to the West side of town, where we easily found the remains of Shuffletown Dragway. A new park was built very close to the property, and there were no gates, fences or “no trespassing” signs, so I walked in and marveled at what was left of Charlotte’s previous drag strip. It’s weird to me that a car crazy city like Charlotte could go nearly 20 years without a drag strip! Either way, Shuffletown had some artifacts left behind, such as the timing tower, guard rail posts and a few drag slicks scattered around the property. When all of my drag strip fun was over, we went to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and ate a couple of $5 hot dogs before checking out the very nice display of NASCAR history. It was certainly a full day of car-related fun, and a great weekend all together.