Special to the Daily Journal
ROCKINGHAM — For drag racing purists and grassroots racers who for years have railed against the use of electronic aids like throttle stops and delay boxes, Rockingham Dragway will offer up a colorful reason to rejoice this Fourth of July week when creator Rich Christensen resurrects the popular “PINKS: All Out” TV franchise.
The iconic drag racing TV series that first aired on Speed Channel, will have live taping for all four days of “PINKS: All Out” for its third incarnation with only a few tweaks to a format that has remained largely intact since it debuted in 2005.
“The fact that racers and fans still want PINKS is both an honor and extremely humbling,” Christensen said. “I’m hoping PINKS Week at Rockingham will become the largest grassroots drag racing festival in the world. Like Sturgis (the Harley-Davidson motorcycle festival held each year at Sturgis, North Dakota), it will be a one-week event. (It’s) The one chance each year for friends and family from all over the country to come together and celebrate all things cars, bikes and speed.”
While grassroots, old-style drag racing between cars, trucks, ATVs, Jr Dragsters and motorcycles will be the cornerstone of the event, there will be other activities as well including car and truck show, grudge racing, bench racing along with live music Thursday night and fireworks on July 3.
Tickets for PINKS Week at “The Rock” are available online at a discount or on site at the Rockingham Dragway ticket office. Several special packages are available, including those with parking inside the track. Otherwise, parking is free in Rockingham’s main lot.
“We’ve been getting calls from the first day we made the announcement,” said Rockingham owner Steve Earwood “The thing about Rich and Brian (Bossone, executive producer of the TV show) is they keep connecting with new audiences. The concept is ageless. It’s basic drag racing. You know, one-on-one, my car is faster than yours. To give racers that compete at that level a forum is just exciting.”
PINKS refers to the pink slips on which California car registrations once were printed and to the often covert activity of “racing for pink slips” or, in essence, racing for ownership of a rival’s car. Although the franchise has moved away from that premise in favor of cash and prizes, the concept, Christensen insists, is still the same — right down to the arm-drop start he created to neutralize delay boxes.
Although cars will qualify using an electronic starting system with the “instant green” option, actual competition still will employ the arm-drop start which recalls drag racing’s beginnings when races were started by a flagman. However, its primary function, because of its unpredictability, is to nullify the use of delay boxes.
“Rockingham is one of the sport’s most historic facilities,” Earwood said of the track constructed in 1969 that he has operated since 1992. “I tell people that ‘Big Daddy’ Don Garlits, Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, the late Raymond Beadle, Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden, Ronnie Sox and John Force all won races at ‘The Rock.’ And so did Tracy Cockman, the guy who took home $10,000 from our PINKS race in 2007.”
Earwood thinks PINKS is something of a motorized Cinderella story.
“It gives little guys, the weekend warriors that are the backbone of operations like mine, an opportunity to be in the spotlight and to win some big money,” he said. “It breeds a kind of excitement that I think is missing these days from pro racing. It’s just fun. I’m glad Rich brought it back — especially to Rockingham.”