DIALED IN this season-opening bracket race and mentioned that they ’ ve been following the improvements on social media , and they can ’ t believe how much we ’ ve gotten done in this short timeframe .”
As much has been accomplished , the reality at Rockingham is that the renovations have only just begun . VanHorn and Gennarelli have lofty goals for this legendary facility , including a new tower renovation , improving the pits with new asphalt , and updating the shutdown area . Building a bar and grill onsite is even something the duo will likely accomplish in the future . For a grand bucket list item , restoring the concrete grandstands is something they dream of doing someday .
In addition to a significant amount of offseason sponsor support , the timing of the track purchase couldn ’ t have been better since a motorsports grant from the state of North Carolina was approved right around the time the duo was closing a deal with Earwood . Moving forward , they ’ re also very optimistic that additional funding from the state will be approved for the dragstrip , as well as the neighboring speedway .
“ We spent years talking about buying a track , and I reached out to so many people who were so supportive , and I want to mention people like Royce Miller , Jimmy Halsey , the Franklin family and Tyler Crossnoe , Ozzy Moya , Lennie from Atco , and Nelson and Maria Hoya from No Problem Raceway ,” says VanHorn .
To kick off the 2023 season , Jim Howard was named track manager , while his wife , Jackie , accepted the role of office manager . Together they bring tons of experience from their tenure at Montgomery Motorsports Park in Alabama . Longtime race promoter Tony Saraceni is heading up the bracket series at Rockingham .
The schedule this year is as robust as ever , with great events that include staple attractions such as NMCA , Super Chevy , Rudy ’ s Diesel , AHDRA , and Carolina No-Time , just to name a few . The Modern Street Hemi Shootout is a series Van- Horn co-founded and now solely owns , and will visit Rockingham multiple times this year .
There ’ s also much anticipation for the return of the legendary Civil Wars , slated for June 9-11 . “ We ’ re bringing the whole thing back !” smiles VanHorn , as he referenced Civil Wars ’ 14 different race classes , swap meet , car show , and fireworks .
Brand-new this year will be Michael Beard ’ s Staging Light Promotions Carolina Footswap Nationals . There will also be big-money bracket racing from SFG , and also the NHRA Lucas Oil series in October . Pretty much every weekend is accounted for from April to December .
“ I never anticipated such an attachment to this place that I ’ ve developed ,” says VanHorn . He and Gennarelli figured they ’ d stay at the track four days at a time , then return home for three days . Instead , they each brought motorhomes to the track and pretty much live here . “ I ’ ve been home twice since Christmas !” says VanHorn .
Gennarelli shares the same energy and vision , and they ’ re willing to do whatever it takes to make Rockingham Dragway new again . “ If we could do that , we feel that we could get a lot of people to come back to Rockingham ,” concludes Gennarelli . DI
80 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com Issue 182