‘The Rock’ receives funds to aid marketing, promotion

Steve Earwood

Kelly Pruett

ROCKINGHAM — Steve Earwood says he spends nearly $200,000 a year on marketing and promotion for Rockingham Dragway.

So getting $40,000 from the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority is a drop in the bucket, but Earwood is thankful for the funds he does receive.

Earwood submitted to the group what he said were two requests — $40,000 to offset the costs of his marketing and promotion and another $12,725 for the production costs on a video shot during the annual Super Chevy Show. Earwood said the reason for the reimbursement for the video is because it focused “on things going on around Rockingham and Richmond County.”

The group rejected Earwood’s request for the full amount and elected to provide him $40,000. RCTDA executive director Kelly Pruett said those funds can be used by Earwood “as need be.” Pruett added even though “The Rock” didn’t get the additonal money, the facility will be receiving several additional perks that will go above and beyond Earwood’s request.

One of the things Pruett highlighted was the installation of a visitors’ information kiosk at the track. Pruett said the $25,000 unit is expected to be up and running at the venue in three months.

“We are exploring a couple of avenues for the funding,” Pruett said. “It is custom-made with its own software and takes nearly eight weeks to produce.”

Pruett added the kiosk will be able to provide users with information about upcoming events at the Rockingham Dragway as well as additional places of interest in the area. She said users will also be able to download directions to those places on interest directly to their smartphones.

Earwood readily admits he does very little promotion on the Internet because his focus is on people “who are a little older and not really on Facebook or Instagram all the time.” Earwood said he targets his audience with direct mail pieces.

Pruett said she is wanting to find ways to supplement that strategy and believes promoting “The Rock’s” event electronically on websites like VisitNC.com will be beneficial.

“Steve and his staff do an excellent job on marketing,” Pruett said. “I’m going to work with them to help them explore other avenues to attract more spectators.”

Pruett also mentioned a feature Earwood is under-utilizing — the campgrounds. Pruett said those areas are usually only rented during events but she would like the track to have visitors out there daily.

Earwood announced Wednesday he is close to finalizing a deal with the officials with Rugged Maniac. The group had its initial event at Rockingham Dragway earlier this spring and Rugged Maniac officials called it “the most successful first-time event ever.”

Earwood said the group wants to have a spring event and a fall event next year at the track.

Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.