ROCKINGHAM — The 19th annual SmokeOut Rally at Rockingham Dragway invites visitors to “come home to your family” — but only if your family likes burning rubber till your chopper’s tires burst, wet T-shirt contests and “older dudes with beer guts and beards.”
The draw is Harley riding — and not those fancy rides built in some over-equipped shop. This event is meant to appeal to the weekend rider, the guy (or gal) who built a bike in the backyard and wants to hang out with a few thousand other people who have done the same thing.
“This is the basic (Harley crowd) that started in the Fifties” with Marlon Brando’s hog-riding “Wild One,” track owner Steve Earwood said Wednesday. “(They’re) very professional guys during the week, and on weekends, they let their hair down.” (Those who have hair, presumably.)
Those who flock to the event will stay in area hotels and motels, shop in area stores and eat in area restaurants from Friday night till about 10 a.m. Sunday, Earwood said. And then, they’ll just be gone.
No cloud of collective dust. Nothing. Except a lot of restaurant workers savoring a weekend of big tips.
All 90-something of the RV sites at the Rock have been reserved, and the more than 200 vacant acres behind the track await others, some of whom will reside in tents and use the portable shower and bathroom facilities Earwood brings in.
The event will include more than 100 vendors, as well as bands, spontaneous drag races, burnout challenges to see who can rev his chopper hard enough to blow a tire, a painted-lady contest, a carnival freak show, beer and beer guts.
Sure, you could find some of those elsewhere, Earwood said Wednesday — but “you can’t be with 7,000 other people that dress like you.” Or tip like you, for that matter.
The event began 19 years ago in Salisbury, then moved to Farmington. It came to Rockingham when it outgrew both of those tracks, Earwood said, something unlikely to happen in Rockingham.
For more information about tickets, prices and events, visit www.SmokeOutRally.com.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]