ROCKINGHAM — Although traditional side-by-side drag racing will be a major focus of Saturday’s Spring Extreme Drags, the pre-Mother’s Day event also will showcase the sport’s offbeat side with a heavy dose of jets and a farewell performance by wheelstand legend and Carolina native Danny O’Day.
O’Day’s supercharged 1934 Ford coupe is widely regarded as the quickest and fastest wheelstanding vehicle ever to negotiate the standard quarter mile. It has covered the distance on the rear wheels only in 8.50 seconds at a finish line speed of almost 160 miles per hour.
Still one of the most popular practitioners on the planet, O’Day is calling it a career primarily because his wife, Donna, no longer is able to travel the circuit with him. He’ll make a pair of farewell trips Saturday in a vehicle that BangShift.com ranked as the fifth greatest of all time behind only such legendary wheelstanders as Bob Riggle’s “Hemi Under Glass” and Bill “Maverick” Golden’s “Little Red Wagon.”
The jet-car show is equally star-studded beginning with the first appearance by a jet-powered Funny Car since the late Roger Gustin made a series of exhibition runs in 2006.
This time, the focal point will be the “Danger Zone” Ford Mustang, essentially a fuel Funny Car which has been stuffed into a J85 jet aircraft engine — the type that once powered U.S. Air Force fighter jets.
While the “Danger Zone” Mustang will go solo on the high traction surface, the jet dragsters of Rockingham’s Terry Rosburg (“American Thunder”) and Joe Zaccaro of Opelika, Ala. (“Southern Lightning”) will run side-by-side. They will test not only the track surface but the stability of the tower, which in the past has suffered some incidental window damage during jet-car exhibitions.
O’Day and the jets will run for the first time at 7 p.m., just ahead of the first round of eliminations in an Extreme Outlaw Pro Modified Series event. Champions also will be crowned in Top Eliminator, Footbrake and Jr. Dragster categories in the third race of the season paying track and NHRA Summit Series points.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve had Pro Mods of this caliber at The Rock,” track owner Steve Earwood said. “Anybody that’s ever seen them knows they are the most challenging vehicles to get down a racetrack. You never know what to expect.”
Adult tickets, which include both pit access and free parking in Rockingham’s main lot, are $20 at the gate or $18 when purchased in advance at www.rockinghamdragway.com. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Active military admission is $15.
Danny O’Day, a North Carolina native, will be making his final Rockingham Dragway appearance at Saturday’s Spring Extreme Drags in his supercharged 1934 Ford coupe.