It was not the way anyone wanted to start the 2014 racing season, but Rockingham Dragway owner Steve Earwood was trying to stay positive Monday, Feb. 24, after a glitch in his high-dollar timing system and an unrelated crash brought his 2014 Racers Appreciation bracket race to a halt well before the planned finish.
“Just one of those things where the stuff you weren’t even worried about is the stuff that breaks down,” Earwood said. “We’ve got the best CompuLink Timing system you can buy and it just malfunctioned at the worst possible time. I know the racers were frustrated, my people were frustrated, I was frustrated.
“The one thing I told the staff is that it’s better that it happened right now so that we can address it and get everything back up to speed,” he said. “The really disappointing thing was that we had great weather and everybody was excited.
“We tried to make up the time we lost with the timing system but then we had a crash that was totally beyond our control and, after talking with the racers, we decided that it was best to stop racing, regroup and try again later. It was a tough pill to swallow, I tell you.”
The resolution was to split the money among racers not yet eliminated from both the Saturday and Sunday shows.
Earwood is flying in CompuLink technician Bubba Corzine from Texas this week to completely diagnose the system to assure all glitches have been eliminated.
The track will open for test-and-tune drags the next two Sundays before playing host March 15-16 to the Southern Jr. Dragster Spring Nationals featuring three separate classes for juniors and a $1,500 top prize in Bracket 1.
Derek Harris, Footbrake
Top Eliminator round 4 winners – Durant Cottingham, Thomasville; Bobby Hardee, Mullins, S.C., 1973 Chevy Vega; Paul Warwick, Lumberton, 1969 Chevy Nova; Tommy Strickland, Raeford; Art Laselle, Fayetteville; Michael Morton, Jacksonville, 1970 Chevy Nova; Aaron “Hot Rod” Brock, Pageland, S.C., 1985 Chevy S-10; Nickey Miller, Lancaster, S.C.; Jeff Allen, Chadbourn, 1967 Chevy Camaro; Brandon Hutchens, Yadkinville; Timothy Allen, Wallace; Graham Burch, Richlands; Howard Brewer, Bennett, 1985 Ford Mustang; Jerry Martin, Raynor, S.C., 1981 Chevy Camaro; Marty Dabney, Troy, Va.; Eric Aman, Mt. Oliver; Chad Duke, Wilmington, 1970 Chevy Nova; John Bridges, Shelby; Lee Desist, Fayetteville, 1967 Chevy Camaro.
Footbrake round 4 winners – Ricky Bullock, Sanford; Tim Davis, Fayetteville; Tim Cowick, Mooresville; Hannah Blevins, Jefferson, S.C., 1968 Chevy; Kenny Roberts, Galivants Ferry, S.C., 1978 Chevy Nova; Jonathan Surrat, Charlotte; Art Laselle, Fayetteville; Derek Harris, McLeansville; Terry Rucker, Benson; Erica Aman, Mt. Olive; Bill Clardy, Loris, S.C.
Jr. Dragster round 4 winners – Kaylee Miller, Lancaster, S.C.; Tucker Creech, Clayton; Dawson Wiggins, Dunn.
Jr. Dragster driver Noah Johnson
Top Eliminator round 5 winners – Michael Morton, Jacksonville; Michelle Pelo, Jacksonville, 1967 Chevy Camaro; Lee Desist, Fayetteville; Graham Burch, Richlands; David Lowe, Raeford, 1969 Chevy Camaro; Doug Walker, Greensboro; Bobby Hardee, Mullins, S.C., 1969 Chevy Nova.
Footbrake round 4 winners – Tim Davis, Fayetteville; Mallie Pennington, Goldsboro; Buddy Plyler, Pageland; Roy Davis, West Columbia, S.C.; Hannah Blevins, Jefferson; Samantha Thomas, Fairmont; Art Laselle, Fayetteville; Bill Clardy, Loris, S.C.; Rashad Alford, Benson; Tim Cowick, Mooresville; Terry Rucker, Benson; Jonathan Wiggins, Dunn, 1992 Ford Mustang; Edward Freeman, Westville, S.C.
Jr. Dragster round 4 winners – Connor Calder, St. Pauls; Noah Johnson, Fayetteville; Tucker Creech, Clayton. (photos courtesy Rockingham Dragway)