ROCKINGHAM — Matthew “Mad Dog” Davey dedicated his win Saturday at Rockingham Speedway to his late grandmother.
Davey, 22, took the checkered flag in the Allison Legacy Race Series’ inaugural event of the 2022 season, which was part of the speedway’s open house festivities.
The race fielded 13 cars on the speedway’s road course, with the configuration taking drivers down the front stretch, rounding turns 1 and into the backstretch, then briefly onto the main oval at turn 3 and back to the infield between turns 3 and 4.
Several caution flags went out during the 20-lap race — with a few drivers winding up in the grass near turn 1 — resulting in re-starts.
Davey said this was the first time on a road course in the car he was driving Saturday.
“To win on a road course is truly amazing to me,” Davey said, giving thanks to his parents for their support.
Davey described the course as being “tough.”
“This road course is very unique, it’s very sketchy,” Davey said. “You don’t want to use too much brake because you will lose your brakes …All in all, you’ve just got to have a good car, a good team just have God be there in the end.”
The Riverside, California, native ran International Kart Federation road races on the West Coast. He began his career in 2005 and earned his first championship at the age of 7, according to the bio on his website.
Before moving to North Carolina to pursue a racing career, Davey won four bandolero state championships in Arizona. His achievements also include placing third in the 2015 Bando Nationals Outlaws division and fifth in 2016, as well as winning the Bojangles Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Davey, who lives in Mooresville, was also named Rookie of the Year for Allison Legacy in 2017. This is his third first-place win with the series, crossing the finish line once in 2018 and in the first race of 2019.
The young driver took time off during the pandemic but said he’s “trying to chase the championship for 2022. Hopefully we can do it.”
“I’m excited to get the win and hopefully we can get some more wins throughout the year,” Davey said.
David Smith, of Savannah, Georgia, and Cody Parker, racing out of Darlington, South Carolina, placed second and third, respectively.
Smith said it was the first time he’d been to Rockingham since he was 9 years old, watching Richard Petty.
Speedway Vice President of Operations Justin Jones congratulated each of the winners following the race.
The Allison Legacy cars were designed by the sons of former NASCAR driver Donnie Allison, who was sitting near the Papa Joe Hendrick Garage early on Saturday to sign autographs. Allison had two career wins at Rockingham — in 1968 and 1977.
Also signing autographs was Will Cronkite, author of “I Was a NASCAR Redneck.”
Racing legend Donnie Allison autographs a book for Christian Wilson.
Although Davey was the first to win on the road course since the track came under new ownership in 2018, he wasn’t the first to win a stock car race at Rockingham.
That honor went to Rob Hindt, of Elkton, Maryland, who won the FasCarz series last October during the East Coast Truck Festival.
Hindt was at the track again this weekend, this time in the No. 15 NAPA car, as one of the drivers in Motorsport 4the Masses’ demonstration of its upcoming Classic American Racing Barnstormer Series, featuring vintage stock cars making exhibition laps.
The two dozen cars — and one truck — ranged from the Cotton Owens No. 70 ‘37 Plymouth Coupe to a Bobby Issac ‘71 Dodge Daytona and cars from a more recent era. The newest, the No. 2 Miller Lite Brad Kesolowski car, was a 2017 Ford Fusion.
The CARBS Tour starts at Rockingham on April 23 and will close out Oct. 1.
In addition to the CARBS Tour, M4theM was responsible for leading attendees in hot laps around the oval. Owner Rob Bolling said more than 120 lapping sessions were sold.
Jason Schue in the No. 3 Dale Earnhardt car passes Rob Hindt in the No. 15 NAPA car over the tunnel before entering Turn 4.
The open house also featured a demonstration from the FASS Big Rig Series, with Luke Whitmire behind the wheel. The series, which will close its season at Rockingham in September, was also at the East Coast Truck Festival last fall, with driver Justin Ball taking the checkered flag, becoming the first to win a race at the speedway in years. Ball also won the series’ 2021 competitive season.
(Note: The first competitive event of the track’s revival was won by T.J. Gutierrez at MB Drift’s Battle of Little Rock in March 2021.)
Brandon Hartt, who last month recorded a video at the track for his song “Good Years,” performed an acoustic set on a stage surrounded by old tires.
The winners of the core sample from the track were Mackenzie Ward and Brenden Davis of Wake County. Ward is originally from Rockingham. The couple bought eight tickets
“We never win anything like this,” Ward said.
Half of the proceeds will go to the charity Racing for Kids.
Jones said that, based on entry waivers, more than 3,400 people were at the open house, which he considered a success.
Some attendees were wearing classic T-shirts from the track’s former NASCAR days when it was called North Carolina Speedway.
The merchandise booth — which included hats, as well as new and vintage shirts — sold out of several items, according to Jones, and grab bags with speedway memorabilia were given out to kids.
Jones said he plans to make the open house an annual event.