ROCKINGHAM — Track owner Steve Earwood believes that diversity is the element that has kept Rockingham Dragway viable even in these tough economic times. To prove his point, he offers up this Saturday’s BioMed Pit Crew Challenge which will bring several hundred middle school students to the track to study how STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) skills apply to auto racing.
A comprehensive “body and mind” endeavor underwritten by Golden LEAF Foundation and guided by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and the North Carolina Motorsports Association, BioMoto is designed to mirror the functions of actual pit crews and thereby teach the students the significance of nutrition and physical fitness, teamwork and creativity.
At last year’s pit crew challenge, coach Milton Matheny’s Corriher-Lipe Middle School teams, representing Rowan-Salisbury schools, won both the first a second place awards. Mark Burr’s Hamlet Middle School team, representing Richmond County, was third.
Events are expected to be between 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and again from noon to 2 p.m.
“This is a great program for kids because it links science and sports,” Earwood said. “From our standpoint, it’s giving back but it also is an opportunity to introduce The Rock to a new generation of potential fans and participants. It’s a win-win and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
By the time the three-year program concludes, more than 1,500 students representing 12 North Carolina school districts will have participated in the various phases. In addition to the pit crew challenge, there are competitions in fitness, mental acumen and design and invention.
Burr’s Hamlet Middle School teams, one designated Daytona and the other Talladega, tied for the Peak Mind title last year and won the Watson Vande Garde Award for the design deemed most patentable by two patent attorneys.
Although Rockingham’s primary business is mainstream drag racing, including events in the IHRA Nitro Jam Series and the Super Chevy Show series, the track also has hosted a number of concerts, motorcycle rallies, drifting events, commercial shoots, car shows and company “play days.” It also is a favorite test facility for a variety of pro and sportsman race teams.
Even within drag racing’s parameters, Rockingham has pushed the envelope with special events for diesel-powered vehicles, for Chevrolets, Dodges, Fords and Volkswagens. Furthermore, it hosts a series of model car events on a 1/10th scale version of its concrete-and-asphalt track.