Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 10, Page

IHRA Finals- Notes From Rockingham

Words by Glen Grissom
Photos by Gary Rowe

I had just attended the ADRL’s amazing Dragstock III at Rockingham a couple of weeks ago when “jefe” Burk was on the phone telling me to get on the road back to Rockingham for the IHRA Universal Technical Institute World Finals. Actually, I begged and pleaded to go back to this impressive track.

Built in 1969, and totally reworked by current owner Steve Earwood, the track had supported record-setting times for Dragstock III and the anticipation and promise of more monumental runs was certainly in the cooler North Carolina air. The temps had been steadily falling in the last few days and the fall foliage was reaching its peak coloring in the area.  We didn’t know then just how cool (and wet) it would get at the venerable track, but it and the racers held up to rewrite the records again.

Clay Millican had the Top Fuel championship all sewed up and getting the Finals win was just icing on the cake.

Here are some random jottings from my paper notebook and laptop and time sheets –

The first item that caught my attention on Friday when I drove up was that the grounds were jammed with race cars. We’re talking standing room only. Earwood told me he had

600 cars and counting as of Friday afternoon. That’s a decent field in anyone’s books – although the Pro ranks were disproportionate. Torco Nitro Funny Car class had only 10 cars trying to qualify, and Top Fuel had nine. Alcohol Funny Car had 15 vying for 8 spots, but Pro Modified and Pro Stock each had 35 competing for 16 slots. There were Sportsman cars scattered hither and yon – most of their classes were at a 41-car count. No wonder Earwood and the IHRA have signed up for two events each year until 2011.

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I hadn’t met the IHRA PR people before, but Travis Reynolds and Mike Perry were really helpful in the press box and kept us all plied with snacks, coffee, and info. At one point some track techs took the press room TV (what the hell!?) for another location (probably for a paying sponsor suite), and Mr. Perry got that corrected PDG. A big-screen JumboTron had been placed downtrack for the fans – apparently a rare occasion because IHRA announcer Brian Olson must have mentioned it about 2,000 times over the event – but it was too far away for most of the geezers in the press box to see any of the action downtrack or replays. So getting that TV back was critical.

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The program ran like clockwork on Friday night qualifying, and the crowd was moderate to thin. Any sporting event is going to come up second to Friday night high school football in the Carolinas. It is taken very seriously in this state.

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