The Performance Racing Network (PRN) says that 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of “zMax Racing Country”. The weekly two-hour music-intensive variety show reaches millions of listeners playing the best selection of country music and original interviews straight from the NASCAR garage and the Nashville recording studios.
Originally coined “Western Auto’s NASCAR Country,” the show was the brainchild of Sid Morris, President of the sports marketing firm Morris International. Thought of on a plane ride to Kansas City, Morris was looking for a better way to promote the auto parts chain Western Auto in NASCAR.
“I was flying along trying to figure out a way to increase awareness of Western Auto,” said Morris. “I was trying to find a way to get media exposure for Western Auto, drive traffic to the store and sell product.
“I had also been working on the concept of bringing racing and country music together because I just knew that the two fit. The country music guys loved NASCAR and the NASCAR guys loved country music. After landing in Kansas City, I pitched it to Western Auto and within fifteen minutes they said, ‘yeah let’s do it.’”
From there Bill Dollar, award-winning country radio morning show host in Charlotte, N.C., was hired as the show’s host with insights from Nashville coming from country insider, Lisa Foster.
“It was exciting because it was innovative for its time. It was fun to be on the ground floor of something ground breaking. New audiences were being met every week with the crossover of racing and country music. It was an exciting time that I look back on fondly,” said Foster.
In 1994 Cathy Martindale joined “zMax Racing Country” as co-host. Martindale who had spent most of her radio career in Nashville at the legendary WSM AM/FM station, along with television hosting duties at The Nashville Network, delivered and continues to deliver exclusive one-on-one insider interviews with Nashville stars big and small.
Dollar would remain host until his passing in 1996 when Paul Schadt, an up-and-coming morning show host in Charlotte, N.C., joined Cathy Martindale bringing behind-the-scenes interviews straight from the NASCAR garage.
“It has been the fastest 25 years on the radio,” said Schadt. “I can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to be part of such an amazing show, first as a listener and then as co-host. Being part of a sport I love and getting to meet and interview the stars has been one of the highlights of my career.”
In 2000 Morris sold “Western Auto’s NASCAR Country” to Speedway Motorsports Incorporated President Bruton Smith who went on to re-name it “zMax Racing Country.”
In its 25 year history “zMax Racing County” has interviewed the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Tanya Tucker, Jimmie Johnson, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and many more NASCAR and Nashville superstars. Today “zMax Racing Country” continues to bring the fans closer to the action on the track and on music row. “zMax Racing Country” can be heard on over 240 affiliates.