Friday, 22 May 2020 16:06

Rockingham Dragway to award first Wallys since pandemic

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Brandon Lane of Goldsboro was last year's top winner in the Run for the Wally at Rockingham Dragway. Brandon Lane of Goldsboro was last year's top winner in the Run for the Wally at Rockingham Dragway. Rockingham Dragway

ROCKINGHAM — No one has hoisted one of drag racing’s iconic “Wally” trophies since Brad Plourd won Comp Eliminator at the virus-shortened NHRA Gatornationals last March in Gainesville, Florida.  However, Rockingham Dragway is positioned to end that drought May 23-25 when it plays host to the 22nd annual Big John Memorial Bracket Nationals.

A “racers only” event this year in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big John Nationals will award a Wally Saturday, Sunday and Monday to the winner of the NHRA TV Challenge, a special runoff between the Pro ET and Footbrake champions. It’s the same trophy earned by Top Fuel and Funny Car winners on the NHRA’s Mello Yello pro tour. A fourth Wally will be awarded to the winner of Monday’s Jr. Dragster Challenge in a runoff between each previous day’s finalist.

“The ‘Run for the Wally” has become one of the highlights of the Big John Memorial race,” said track owner Steve Earwood, “and with everything that’s been going on, I’m sure those trophies are going to be even more special this year.”

Last year’s “Run for the Wally” winners were Brandon Lane of Goldsboro, Ken Batchelor of Leland and Chris Gibson of Lexington. Brandon Sullivan of Bradford, Virginia won the Jr. Dragster Wally.

The three-day event honors the memory of “Big John” Leviner, a beloved former Rockingham Dragway employee, and has become a destination race for grass roots drag racers up and down the east coast.

Champions will be crowned each day in Top ET, Footbrake, Jr. Dragster and, for the first time, Jr. Street. Top ET winners will take home $5,000 Saturday, $7,500 Sunday and $5,000 Monday. Footbrake winners, who benefit from a free entry bonus, earn $1,000 daily. In addition, the driver who wins the most overall rounds over the three days, regardless of category, will be awarded the North Carolina State Champion’s trophy.