Richmond County Daily Journal
While the Rockingham Speedway will provide their entertainment today on the Fourth of July, the Rockingham Dragway put on their holiday show for the area residents Friday night.
The seventh annual Freedom Drag Fest took place at "The Rock." Although racing was the head line event, there were also other activities including professional wrestling, live music from Christian Rock band "Fire for Effect" and a fireworks displays.
Track owner Steve Earwood believed this year's Freedom Fest outshined those in the past.
"I think this was the most successful Freedom Fest, we've ever had," Earwood said. "I thought the attendance was bigger than it has been in the past. There were a lot of families out here that was gratifying to see and they got treated to a lot of entertainment."
The competition racing portion of Drag Fest featured three rounds of cars involved in the Insane Performance Real Street class or Classic Gear Jammers series. Robert Hall from Lemon Springs in his 1993 Mustang
defeated William Morgan from Eagle Springs in the Real Street class finals.
Hall ran a elapsed time of 8.055 at 86.32 miles per hour, while Morgan failed to run down the strip after being disqualified.
According to Hall, Morgan left before the green light came on that resulted in the red foul light coming on in his lane and eliminating him from winning the race.
"Unfortunately, for him, he ended up committing a foul and it worked out well for me," Hall said. "I still went on down the track after what happened to him. For the whole three rounds, I just tried to keep my car going consistently down the race track. 'The Rock' is like my home track and I usually race here once a month. To be part of this event was a lot of fun."
In the Classic Gear Jammer finals, veteran Mike Boyles, from King outran Adam Hull from Mount Airy in his '57 Chevy Wagon with a time of 6.111 at 95.11 mph. The 64-year-old Boyles is a eight-time IHRA Superstock champion, including five coming at 'The Rock.'
"This was my third Gear Jammers championship, but the first time, I've won it here," Boyles said. "The previous times we never got to finish here because of rain, but I love coming down here. We don't get a whole lot of money, but I just love the competition."
One of the exhibition runs in the program included "The Thriller" jet dragster driven by Terry Rosberg against "The Beast from the East" jet of Ernie Bouge. The rookie Rosberg, who is a California native, but resides in Rockingham, got to go down the strip at "The Rock" against an opponent for the first time. Rosberg won the first show down, but Bouge got revenge in the last encounter of the night.
"It was one of those feelings that you can't describe," Rosberg said. "It was great to race in front of the good people of Rockingham and also in front of family."
Fans also at the event got to see grapplers from American Championship Wrestling that usually put on shows in Laurinburg. There were four matches with the main event including a battle royal. Two of the wrestlers on the card were Pembroke natives William Locklear and Ernie Barton. The veteran Locklear wrestles under the stage name "Chief Red Thunder."
According to Locklear, he has been in involved in the sport for 46 years.
"I've been wrestling since the mid-90?s, but primarily in the ACW," Locklear said. "Those people have always been good to work with. Pro wrestling is tougher than most folks think, but just like racing, it's all entertainment. Coming here to 'The Rock', which is like the entertainment capital of the Southeast, was special. It was an honor to be part of this big festival."
Barton added that he has been in the industry for 10 years that included a brief stint on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which is regularly shown on Spike TV. Barton is known as "Dylan Kage" in the squared circle.
"I got that name because I used to hang out in Dillon, South Carolina all the time," Barton said. "William actually brought me in this business. With him and a lot of these guys, they like to stay regional, while I like to branch out more. I've traveled to Japan to wrestle in the past, and last week, I did a show in Boston and got here in Rockingham on Tuesday. It's good to see different parts of the country and this was a neat thing to be part of."
n Contact sports reporter Corey Davis at 997-3111, ext. 44; e-mail