ROCKINGHAM DRAGWAY Overview & Further Information
Track Built : 1969
Track Opened First Time : 1970
Original Owners : Bill Land & LG DeWitt
Steve Earwood Took Ownership : 1992

As the Carolinas' premier drag racing facility, Rockingham Dragway offers racers, fans and sponsors a season-long smorgasbord of competition events ranging from entertainment spectacles like the GM Performance Super Chevy Show and the ADRL Dragstock to specialty events like the National Bikers Roundup, which delivered what the Department of Commerce estimated as a $40 million economic windfall when it was last staged at the track in 2004

Although “The Rock” has operated continuously for almost 40 years, it experienced a rebirth in 1992 when it was purchased by Steve Earwood, who transformed it from a facility that produced only two major races each year to one that today operates weekly from February through November.

Under Earwood’s direction, the track's rich performance history, which includes an ongoing 37-year streak as the host of at least one major national drag racing championship, has been augmented not only be an expanded racing schedule but by a comprehensive track improvement and expansion program.

On Earwood’s watch, the track was resurfaced for the first time in history (and, when that moved didn’t produce the anticipated result, it was repaved two times thereafter), new grandstands were added, new permanent restroom facilities were constructed, a new ticket office came on line, Musco lighting was added to enhance nighttime competition, new timing and scoring equipment was added and additional land was purchased to expand the pit area.

A spectator crossover bridge linking the pro and sportsman pit areas was erected, the pit area was repaved and concrete guardwalls were installed from starting line beyond the finish line on both sides of the track.
Rockingham also is recognized for its marketing of non-racing activities like concerts (Metallica and Kid Rock have played there twice), contests and corporate outings.

The diverse and expanded calendar is a reflection of the Carolinas' stature as one of the nation's fastest growing regions.  Because of its central location – within two hours drive of Charlotte, Greensboro-Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham, and Fayetteville – "The Rock" is easily accessed by both participants and spectators.

In addition to its two primary events, Rockingham is host to the IHRA Pro-Am Series, the IHRA Bracket Finals and to two key events in the All-Harley Drag Racing Association series for motorcycles.

It produces a Friday night street legal series that provides a safe, supervised outlet for teens and others with a inherent “need for speed, stages a summer Midnite Drags series also created to address the illegal street racing issue, hosts the Ironhorse National Smokeout Custom Bike Show and, with Maryland International Raceway, produces the Mickey Thompson Performance Tires MiRock Superbike Series, one of the most successful independent motorcycle racing ventures in the country.

Furthermore, Rockingham Dragway is host to several prominent stand-alones including the Holcomb Motorsports 10.5 Civil Wars races, one in the spring and another in the fall; all-Ford, all-Chrysler and all-VW specialty events; and an increasingly large number of import events that cater to a new generation of drag racing enthusiasts.

Under Earwood’s direction, Rockingham has delivered more than just high-powered motorsports excitement and a national identity.  It has made substantial and sustainable contributions to the local economy.

The Super Chevy Show and Dragstock, the cornerstone events in the track’s 90-race season, pour an estimated $30 million into the economy.  During both events, hotels as far away as Wadesboro to the west, Sanford to the north and Laurinburg to the east are full of racers, sponsors, officials and race fans.

“Most race fans will travel more than 150 miles to attend one of our major events,” Earwood said, “and many will spend extra time in the area enjoying other attractions like golf or antiquing.”

In addition to the live audience, the area further benefits from positive national coverage on television, in newspapers and in major periodicals.

“We are constantly looking for new ways in which we can use the track and its related facilities,” Earwood said.

 “Obviously, when we stage more events – whether they’re drag races, concerts or whatever – the local economy benefits, too,” Earwood said.  “That’s why we are constantly looking for inventive new ways to use our resources whether it’s through aggressively promoting midweek testing or making the track available for non-racing corporate functions.”


North Carolina Track Hosts Two National Races, Host of Other Events

Rockingham Dragway is in its fifth decade of operation as a upper echelon American drag racing facility, one that for all but three years since 1969 has hosted at least one major event under the sanction of either the now defunct American Hot Rod Association (1969-1970), the International Hot Rod Association (1971-1988 and 1999-present) or the National Hot Rod Association (1992-1998).

Built in 1969 by developers Bill Land and L.G. Dewitt as a companion to the NASCAR oval track that occupied real estate across U.S. Highway 1, Rockingham Dragway today is one of only three major U.S. dragstrips hosting more than a single event in one of the two major straight-line series.

Rockingham plays host to the ADRL Dragstock, part of the American Drag Racing League national series..  

Thirty years before the construction of the current wave of “supertracks,” Rockingham Dragway set the standard by which most facilities still are measured. 

Not only was it one of the first purpose-built dragstrips in the country, it also was one of the first to feature paved pits, permanent restroom facilities, permanent concrete grandstands and VIP amenities including corporate suites with an unobstructed view down the racetrack.

Under the direction of Steve Earwood, who assumed ownership in 1992, Rockingham has undergone a complete facelift over the past 19 years that has enabled it to keep pace in a changing marketplace.

A two-time IHRA National Track Promoter of the Year (2001, 2008) and former NHRA Southeast Division Man of the Year during the time that his track played host to the NHRA’s Winston Invitational, Earwood supervised an expansion of the pro and sportsman pits, an upgrade of the scales and timing operations, erection of new read-out scoreboards and installation of a high tech Musco lighting system to enhance the track’s night racing program.

He arranged for the first re-paving of the quarter mile surface since the track’s construction and, unhappy with the result, had the work done two more times to get it right.  Among the track construction projects completed on his watch were a new ticket office, new concessions buildings, crossover bridge linking the pro and sportsman pit areas and concrete guardwalls that run the length of the quarter mile and beyond.

Earwood, Chairman of the Board of the North Carolina Motorsports Association and a charter member of the Governor’s North Carolina Motorsports Advisory Council, has created several successful franchises of his own including the Mickey Thompson Tires MIRock Superbike Series, composed of eight races, four at The Rock and four at Maryland International Raceway.

The biggest difference between Rockingham Dragway, then and now, though, is the weekly activity that provides an alternative to illegal street racing.

On most Saturdays the track is open to grassroots racers, offering supervised time runs and grudge racing as part of Earwood’s Outlaw Street Drags program.  The track also hosts a major bracket racing program on Memorial Day Weekend and each Fourth of July stages Freedom Fest as a tribute to American servicemen and women.

Although drag racing is the track’s principal revenue source, Earwood isn’t averse to an offbeat promotion or two.  Among other events, his Sandhills area track has hosted the Lollapalooza series, a Metallica concert, the National Bikers Roundup and the official North Carolina barbecue cookoff competition.