Special to the Daily Journal
ROCKINGHAM — Since he bought Rockingham Dragway in 1992, Steve Earwood has been on the cutting edge of big money bracket racing.
His credits include the iconic Million Dollar Drag Race in which he and partner George Howard paid out more money to the Top ET winner than NHRA ever has paid to a Top Fuel or Funny Car winner in its national series.
That experience, coupled with his appreciation for the bracket racing concept was the basis that he and co-promoter Tony Saraceno created this week’s Spring Bracket Nationals, an event that will pay $10,000 per day to the Top ET champion in a class featuring cars capable of running 8.49 seconds or quicker.
“You see some of the best pure drivers in the sport in bracket racing,” Earwood said. “Nowhere is there a greater premium on perfection. The car has to run perfectly and the driver has to be dead-on his game and, even then, it’s a battle because there are so many good racers out there.”
Earwood hopes to see a lot of those racers this weekend when doled out his first $10,000 winner’s share of the purse Friday night. Another $10,000 will be awarded Saturday and one more on Sunday but what sets the Spring Bracket Nationals apart are all the “extras.”
Big trailer checks will be awarded to all the winners and runners-up, three “long haul” trophies will be presented to those who traveled the greatest distance to participate and there will be special recognition for the Best Appearing Dragster, Best Appearing Door Car and Best Appearing Crew and for the Best Engineered Car.
Additionally, random awards will go to drivers eliminated in the first through fourth rounds on all three days of competition.
While the big money will be concentrated in the Pro ET class, Footbrake and Jr. Dragway drivers haven’t been ignored. Footbrakers will race for $2,500 on Saturday and Sunday and are eligible to compete in Friday’s Hi-Rollers race. Juniors will race for a $400 top prize on Saturday and Sunday.
Spectator and crew passes are $35 for the weekend, $25 for Saturday and Sunday or $15 Sunday only. Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Parking is always free in Rockingham’s main lot.