ROCKINGHAM — Two decades of tradition, a cash purse that includes $10,000 to Sunday’s Top ET winner, and the opportunity to race for four of the iconic NHRA “Wally” trophies are expected to attract a record number of racers to Rockingham Dragway this weekend for the 20th annual “Big John” Leviner Memorial Weekend Bracket Nationals.
Celebrating the life of the late “Big John” Leviner, a popular Rockingham Dragway track official, the Memorial Weekend event will crown daily champions in Top Eliminator, Footbrake and Jr. Dragster. As a 20th anniversary bonus, track owner Steve Earwood is throwing in free testing on Friday with each tech-card purchase.
While the purse, the awarding of track championships and NHRA Summit Series points are always major attractions, the most unique aspect of the event is the National Dragster Challenge — a daily “Run for the Wally” in which the Top Eliminator and Footbrake winners square off in a one-run showdown for one of the trophies that are named after the late NHRA founder and president, Wally Parks.
A fourth Wally will be awarded Monday to the winner of the Jr. Dragster Challenge.
Last year’s “Wally” winners were Chris “Hot Rod” Gibson (Lexington), Greg Broadway (New Bern), Jerry Brewer (Lumberton) and Jr. Dragster champ Chase Wagner (Willow Springs).
“It’s a nice little perk. It’s not something everyone has a chance to win in his or her racing career, so it definitely generates a little more excitement,” Earwood said. “It’s a big deal to have a Wally, just like those John Force has. It’s a validation, I think.”
Gates open at noon Friday for a test-and-tune session that will run from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.
On Saturday, gates open at 8 a.m. with time trials at 9 a.m. Eliminations will follow a “Run for the Money” time trial at 11 a.m. The schedule will be relatively the same for Sunday and Monday.