ROCKINGHAM — With its first repave in decades complete, Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex is ready for racing and other events for the 2023 season.
“This year is going to rock,” said the speedway’s Justin Jones. “Some of these events have been with us since 2021 and they’re continuing to grow with us.”
While the speedway hasn’t yet released its schedule for its third year back in business, the RO is aware it includes several new events in addition to a few that are familiar to the legendary track.
The SMART Modified Tour will be racing at the Little Rock on Oct. 14 for the Rock n’ Roll 99.
A test for the series was held at the half-mile track back in November 2022.
Tour officials last month announced that former NASCAR driver Ryan Newman would be behind the wheel in the SMART Modified series.
The 2002 Cup Series Rookie of the Year found early success at Rockingham’s main track early in his career, grabbing the pole in three of five races — with four top-14 finishes, the highest being fifth place — before the Rock was removed from the Cup schedule.
Bobby Labonte also drives in the SMART Modified series. He took the checkered flag in the February 2000 race.
Most of the tracks used in that series — including Carteret Speedway, Dillon Motor Speedway and Caraway Speedway — are all shorter than a half-mile.
Jones said Carolina Mini-Stock Challenge will return as a supporting series for the SMART Modified tour with a race prior to the main event.
Last summer, the min-stock series raced around the roval, with Shane Canipe taking the checkered flag.
Click here to read about the Rock the Roval Summer Showdown.
Another race late in the season will be the Grand National Super Series All Star Race slated for Nov. 3, the final date on the series’ schedule.
Last month, the Hot Rod Power Tour announced that it would be adding Rockingham as the third stop on its weeklong trek through the south.
The tour will kick off at Atlanta Motor Speedway June 12, then move to the South Carolina State Fairgrounds before stopping at the Rock June 14. From there it will head to Zmax Dragway in Concord and end at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Tourism Director Meghann Lambeth said Tuesday that the Holiday Inn Express is already booked for that night.
County Manager Bryan Land said the last time the tour rolled through town, residents were sitting in lawn chairs to watch as the cars drove by.
The speedway will host its second annual Open House March 4, with Allison Legacy series kicking off its competitive season with a race around the roval. The event will also feature an exhibition by Stock Car Classics and appearance by former NASCAR driver Donnie Allison.
Click here to read more about the Open House.
The Rock is also again hosting the Ducks Unlimited banquet on March 17.
MB Drift, which made Rockingham Speedway its home in 2021 after the closing of Myrtle Beach Speedway in late 2020, will be returning for six two-day events in its third season at the Rock.
The grassroots drifting series kicks off the season March 18-19 with its Spring Matsuri. MB Drift has teamed up with Driftaholic Racing for the Battle of Little Rock 225 Shootout, with the winner taking home $2,225, to run as a tandem event.
MB Drift will also host four competitive events — April 29-30, June 17-18, July 29-30 and Sept. 9-10 — in addition to its annual Halloween Havoc Oct. 21-22.
During open drift times, free ride-alongs are available for spectators 18 and older.
For those interested in getting behind the wheel — or passenger seat — of a stock car, Seat Time Racing School has two dates, May 27 and Oct. 7, and the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience will be at the track Aug. 19.
Wallace was at Rockingham Feb. 2 for the kick-off of the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
Click here to read more about the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.
Monster Truckz will also be bringing its show back to Rockingham March 10-12 and Dirty South Showdown is gearing up for its Tailgate N’ Tallboys event in November. Jones said that a concert is scheduled for the Dirty South event, but the lineup hasn’t been finalized.
Click here to see photos from the inaugural Dirty South Showdown.
The National Auto Sport Association returns Oct. 13-15 for its annual Speedtoberfest and NCE30 will host an event at the end of the month. ImportExpo is also coming back to the Rock for 2023.
Click here to see photos from NASA’s Speedtoberfest.
Click here to see photos from NCE30’s Oktoberfest.
As for non-motorsports events, Zerbini Family Circus and Double Creek Rodeo are coming back for their second year, both in May.
(See the RO’s Facebook page for photos from those events in 2022.)
Another new event on the schedule is the Sunrise2Sunrise Festival, a 24-hour electronic dance music concert.
The festival, slated for April 22, will feature two stages — including one inside the pit garage — and offer balloon rides and rides around the track. The Little Rock will be used for stargazing.
Another 24-hour festival is planned for Sept. 23.
Jones said he was excited about the recent and planned renovations — which include lights, seating at Little Rock and the construction of a dirt track — and looks forward to giving the community and those in surrounding areas “a fun, affordable place to go on the weekend.”
“There’s going to be a whole lot to do at the Rock this year.”