Wednesday, 19 May 2021 13:49

RO EDITORIAL: Speedway, dragway deserve support from Richmond County residents

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On certain weekends you can drive through Marston and hear the roar of engines in stereo.

After sitting idle for several years and a few false starts, it seems the revival of the historic Rockingham Speedway is gaining traction.

The news started rolling out late last year when the CARS Tour announced it was bringing a race to the track.

The event was originally slated for March, but after two tests organizers decided to push it back to the fall to develop a new tire compound to hold up longer on the speedway’s 1.071-mile oval. Last week, they announced the race would be held in November.

When the team at MB Drift found out late last year that Myrtle Beach Speedway, their venue for more than a decade, was closing due to rezoning, they found a new home in Rockingham.

They were at the track the weekend prior to the first CARS Tour tire test and held their first official event of the 2021 season in February. Since then, MB Drift has held two competitions — one in March at the “Little Rock” and the other this past weekend — and the Spring Matsuri, with more events scheduled each month through November.

Justin Jones, vice president of operations at the speedway, recently announced a paintball tournament scheduled for June and Monster Truckz event for the July 4th weekend.

“We’re ready to begin the journey of bringing racing back to the Rock,” Jones told the RO last week.

There are many who long for racing’s return to Richmond County.

We should point out that motorsports never left.

Rockingham Dragway owner Steve Earwood has been an unsung hero, lubricating the county’s tourism engine with nearly three decades behind the wheel at the track.

Earwood has kept the dragstrip in motion with more than 30 events per year — from hot rods to dragsters, motorcycles to RC cars.

The schedule has also included the Rugged Maniac obstacle course, Carolina Rebellion and Epicenter music festivals, and biker rallies.

The dragway has drawn visitors from across the country and competitors from around the world.

Earwood announced last summer that he was selling the property and has faith the new owners will keep things rolling.

While the speedway and dragway — both affectionately referred to as “The Rock” — bring thousands of visitors annually, they still need an injection of local support to keep the motor running.

MB Drift has had four events this year and the local attendance has been minimal at best.

“I know it’s not the traditional type of motorsport,” said MB Drift co-founder Marshall Eggerling. “But if you come out and experience it, nine times out of 10 you’re going to fall in love … it’s such a fun thing to do that everyone should come out and check it out at least one time and then they can decide first-hand whether they like it or not.”

We understand that when some people say they want racing back, what they really mean is they want NASCAR back.

The speedway still has body work to be done before that’s a possibility.

But even with the upgrades, it’s still going to take fans in the stands to get the green flag.

Instead of complaining that there’s “nothing to do around here,” get out one weekend a month and go to an event at one of the tracks and support The Rock — both of them.


Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 13:57