ROCKINGHAM — Much of drag racing’s appeal stems from the fact that it is constantly evolving. It is a “what have you done for me lately?” sport. Those who adjust and adapt, survive and thrive. Those who don’t? Well, they go the way of the front-engine dragster, the bleach burnout and the flag start.
For 53 years, the last 31 under the ownership of Steve Earwood, Rockingham Dragway has remained part of the conversation by quickly identifying and embracing new trends.
Whether it’s new concrete and asphalt, better timing equipment, better lighting, better track preparation techniques, better safety equipment or simply the willingness to accept new and unfamiliar derivatives of the standard straight-line equation, The Rock has managed to roll with the flow.
It is that philosophy that compelled Earwood to commit this week to yet another track improvement project. Through an agreement with Bob Brockmeyer, founder and CEO of Compulink, the industry gold standard and the official scoring and timing system of the NHRA, the track is due for a complete electronic makeover.
Existing Compulink scoring and timing equipment will be replaced with next generation versions including new computers, new monitors and new sensors all connected to new cable strung from starting line to finish line.
“Bob is always refining his system,” Earwood said, “and we owe it to our racers and fans to keep up with the changing technology.”
It will be the second major upgrade to the timing system during Earwood’s ownership. He also oversaw several expansions of the pro and sportsman pits, an upgrade of the scales, erection of new read-out scoreboards and installation of a high tech Musco lighting system.
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 and a third time to maintain its integrity.
Among the other construction projects completed on his watch were a new ticket office, new concessions buildings, a crossover bridge linking the pro and sportsman pit areas, concrete guardwalls that run the length of the quarter mile and re-paving of the main entrance road.
Work on the scoring and timing upgrade will begin within the month, Earwood said.