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Concord, North Carolina
Lat: 35.4086° N Lon: 80.5797° W
Concord, North Carolina - Since the first official drag races of the 1950s, the cars – "dragsters" – have been reengineered to reach speeds upward of 300 mph. Now, I live in LA and, thus, spend much of my drive time in gridlock. So when facing the prospect of a dragster…consider my engine revved.

Drag races typically pit two of these dragsters against each other for a quarter-mile stretch. Greased-Lightning Era drag racers first topped 100 mph in dry lakebeds of California’s Mojave Desert. The sport really hit the pedal in 1950 when the first drag strip opened in Santa Ana, providing racers access to revolutionary speed clocks. They quickly refined their equipment and technique. The National Hot Rod Association developed rules and regulations and legitimatized the sport. Since then, racers have been retooling every aspect of the sport – the cars, the tracks, the driving – to reach speeds unimaginable to their speed-demon predecessors out in the desert. One cylinder of an eight-cylinder Top Fuel dragster produces as much horsepower as the entire output of a NASCAR engine. And it takes less than two tenths of a second for all that horsepower to reach the rear wheels. Boom.

I’ll tell you what; it feels pretty good--also rather intimidating. When “Off Limits” arrived at the ZMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, I had the extreme honor of meeting a man who has dedicated his life to mastering and advocating for the sport. I also got to drive his dragster. Roy Hill operates the Roy Hill School of Drag Racing. But this passionate man is more than a great teacher, he’s the real deal. He’s been a two-time international champion and trained some of drag racing’s biggest names including Richie “The Kid” Stevens, Warren Johnson, and Doug Herbert.

Roy’s fastest cars can travel the length of more than four football fields in less than five seconds. At 70 years of age, this proud practitioner of speed is still fearless in face of danger. He also seems to be having a great time with a whole hunk of horsepower. I’ve been driving for about three decades but I have never had the sensations behind the wheel that I experienced that day, thanks to Mr. Hill’s amazing automobile. The ferocity of that engine roaring behind me made the thing seem alive. And when we spun the tires to heat the rubber (for increased traction or hook) I felt my heart jump into my throat. I wanted to set the beast loose and let her fly. Men: You must do this. Women: You must let us. For these are the matters men were made to put in motion. Go to North Carolina. Go and learn from Roy Hill how to make a car go rocket fast.

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