ROCKINGHAM — The owners of both Richmond County’s legendary tracks are “all in” to keep motorsports alive in the area.
Rockingham Dragway on Thursday hosted a Business After 5 event with Patrick Zabst and John Burleson offering free ride-alongs in their Mopar machines: Zabst in a Dodge Charger; Burleson with a Dodge Challenger.
Several people took their own vehicles for a test drive down the track, including Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump.
For some, it was their first experience drag racing.
After welcoming the crowd, Crump referenced a meeting at the track earlier in the week saying “(we) had an opportunity to talk … about how lucky we are to have ownership at the Dragway and ownership at the Rockingham Speedway that’s all-in and committed to bringing racing back full-steam to this community.”
Crump added that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that “portends of good news for the future for both tracks.”
Dan Lovenheim, majority owner of Rockingham Speedway, was a man of a few words.
“We’re really happy to be a part of all of this and the potential revitalization of the track and many more things,” Lovenheim said.
The Speedway recently repaved the mile oval and erected lights along the infield, and there are more renovations in the works.
Rockingham Dragway recently came under the ownership of Dan VanHorn and Al Gennarelli, after three decades with Steve Earwood behind the wheel.
While both still have homes outside of the county, they spend a lot of time at the track.
VanHorn said the relationship between the two tracks has gotten stronger over the last few months.
He went on to say that, while his family still lives in Virginia, he has Rockingham listed as his address on his driver’s license and is in the process of registering his vehicles here.
“I am, in fact, all in,” VanHorn said. “Al’s the same way. We would not have invested what we invested to buy this track without having long-term plans … Hopefully you’re along for the ride with us.”
Rockingham native Erik Hawks provided musical entertainment for the event. Hawks will be back with his full band at the Dragway for Civil Wars on June 9.
The 25th annual “Big John” Memorial Weekend Bracket Championships, which was scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed due to rainy weather until Aug. 19-20.
See more photos below.