ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- The Ninth annual Bethesda Softworks World Finals, concluding event in the 12-race 2004 IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series.
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-24, 2004.
WHERE: Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, N.C. Track is located on U.S. Highway 1 across from North Carolina Speedway, 10 miles north of the city of Rockingham, 75 miles south of Raleigh, N.C., and 80 miles east of Charlotte, N.C.
WHO: The stars of the IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series including reigning series champions Clay Millican of Drummonds, Tenn., in Top Fuel; Mitch Stott of Mill Spring, N.C., in Pro Modified; Brian Gahm of Lucasville, Ohio, in Pro Stock; and Rob Atchison of London, Ontario, Canada in Funny Car plus current points leaders Mike Janis (Pro Mod), Mark Thomas (Funny Car) and John Nobile (Pro Stock). Also, the nation's top sportsman drivers competing in eight Mr. Gasket sportsman classes including Top Dragster and Top Sportsman.
NIGHT(S) OF FIRE: Thanks to the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority, race fans will get a double dose of IHRA's popular "Night of Fire" qualifying extravaganza featuring not only 320 mile-an-hour Top Fuel dragsters, Top Fuel Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Pro Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Funny Cars, but also Bob Motz and The Original Jet Truck, Jon Oswell's "Ladder Truck 33" wheelstanding firetruck, Ken Nelson's "Cool bus" wheelstander and a giant fireworks show. "Night of Fire" qualifying will begin at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
TELEVISION: SPEED Channel, in cooperation with Clear Channel Entertainment, will produce and air four hours of highlight coverage airing in pair of two-hour shows. The first show, featuring Top Fuel dragsters and Pro Modifieds, will air at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18. The second, focusing on Funny Car and Pro Stock, will air at 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 20.
PURSE: More than $875,000 in cash and contingency awards including $20,500 to the Top Fuel champion, $10,000 to the Pro Modified champion and $7,000 each to the winners in Pro Stock and Funny Car.
Saturday, Oct. 23 – Gates open 8 a.m.; Sportsman qualifying, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Pro qualifying 2 pm and 7 pm; Pro drivers autograph session after first session.
Sunday, Oct. 24 – Gates open 8 am; Church service and special awards 8:30 am; Pro elimination rounds at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Saturday -- General admission, including pit access and free parking, $40 for adults; $5 children 6-12; reserved seating $10 additional; VIP parking $20.
Sunday -- General admission, including pit access and free parking, $35 for adults: $5 children 6-12; reserved seating $5 additional; VIP parking $20.
Hooters World Finals Special – Coupons good for $15 off the $35 Sunday admission price available at all participating Hooters Restaurants including those in Charlotte, Raleigh, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Rock Hill and Columbia, S.C.
Military Discount – $10 off any ticket with presentation of a valid military ID.
INFORMATION: Rockingham Dragway, 910-582-3400.
ROCKINGHAM DRAGWAY TRACK RECORDS:
Pro Modified -- 6.111 seconds by Fred Hahn, Elma, N.Y., 2002 Chevrolet Corvette, Oct. 18, 2003; 234.53 mph by Fred Hahn, Elma, N.Y., 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, Nov. 5, 2000.
Pro Stock -- 6.484 seconds by John Montecalvo, Center Moriches, N.Y., 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, April 25, 2004; 213.94 mph by Tom Lee, Kingsport, Tenn., 2000 Ford Mustang, Nov. 5, 2000.
Funny Car -- 5.737 seconds by Dale Brand, Sully, Iowa, 2001 Pontiac Firebird, March 23, 2002; 251.25 mph by Fred Mandoline, Schiller Park, Ill., 1994 Dodge Daytona, April 5, 1998.
IHRA NATIONAL RECORDS:
Pro Modified -- 6.112 seconds by Mike Janis, Lancaster, N.Y., 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, Sept., 2001, Budds Creek, Md.; 232.07 mph by Mike Janis, Lancaster, N.Y., 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, Sept., 2003, Budds Creek, Md.
Pro Stock -- 6.473 seconds by John Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., 2004 Ford Escort ZX2, May, 2004, Richmond, Va.; 215.37 mph by John Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., 2004 Ford Escort ZX2, May, 2004, Richmond, Va.
Funny Car -- 5.722 seconds by Dale Brand, Sully, Iowa, 2001 Pontiac Firebird, Sept., 2001, Budds Creek, Md.; 246.26 mph by Laurie Cannister, Clinton, Pa., 1999 Chevrolet Camaro, Sept., 2002, Budds Creek, Md.
The most prolific winner in Rockingham Dragway history will pursue the championship in the most competitive category in the IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series. Rickie Smith, the five-time former IHRA Pro Stock Champion, will be in a Pro Modified car at the Hooters World Finals hoping to win at The Rock for the eighth time in his career. His first Rockingham win came in the Super Modified class at the 1977 Pro-Am Nationals. His last Rockingham victory came in Pro Stock in 1988. Smith is competing in a class that drew 58 Pro Mods for last year's World Finals.
Three-time IHRA World Top Fuel Champion Clay Millican will be trying to win at The Rock for the seventh consecutive time when he returns to defend in the Bethesda Software World Finals. Millican, the track and IHRA national record-holder, drove Peter Lehman's Werner Enterprises dragster to victory in the IHRA Spring Nationals contested at Rockingham in April. With a victory, Millican could tie Rickie Smith for most career victories at Rockingham.
Rockingham Dragway's oldest existing track record appears secure for another year. In 1998, the last year the track played host to the NHRA Winston Invitational, Fred Mandoline drove his Dodge Daytona Funny Car to a speed of 251.25 mph. That's five miles per hour faster than the IHRA world record. To be fair, though, Mandoline set his mark within the more liberal NHRA rules structure.
MOST VICTORIES, ROCKINGHAM NATIONAL EVENTS:
7 Rickie Smith, Super Modified-Pro Stock 6 Ronnie Sox, Pro Stock 6 Mike Boyles, Stock 6 Mark Oswald, Top Fuel-Funny Car 6 Clay Millican, Top Fuel 5 Hugh Norton, Quick Rod-Street Rod 5 Curtis Smith, Stock 5 Kenny Bernstein, Funny Car-Top Fuel 5 Blaine Johnson, Top Alcohol-Top Fuel 5 Dale Pule, Funny Car 5 Raymond Beadle, Funny Car
Mike Boyles and Ronnie Sox own the distinction of having spread their victories at Rockingham over the longest time period. Both were winners at the spring race in 1971 (Boyles in Top Stock and Sox in Pro Stock) and both won 14 years later (1985) in Super Stock and Pro Stock, respectively.
Clay Millican, Mike Janis, John Montecalvo and Mark Thomas are in position to join an elite group of pro drivers who, in a single season, have swept the two IHRA national events contested at Rockingham Dragway. That foursome shared the winners' circle at the April Spring Nationals. Other pro drivers who have doubled-up at The Rock:
Ronnie Sox, Pro Stock, 1972 Raymond Beadle, Funny Car, 1976 Bob Glidden, Pro Stock, 1976 Lee Edwards, Pro Stock, 1978 Jody Smart, Top Fuel, 1983 Rickie Smith, Pro Stock, 1983 Billy Meyer, Funny Car, 1984 Gene Wilson, Pro Stock, 2001 Clay Millican, Top Fuel, 2002 Clay Millican, Top Fuel, 2003
In its first 32 years, Rockingham Dragway crowned just one woman champion – Bunny Burkett, who won the Alcohol Funny Car title at the 1986 spring race. Last year, it crowned two women champions – Missy Phillips and Lisa Bolton, the Stock Eliminator winners in the spring and fall, respectively.
Among the past winners of IHRA events at Rockingham Dragway are:
"Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Top Fuel winner at the fall race in 1973 and the spring race in 1975 and 1978. Raymond Beadle, three-time IHRA series Champion and owner of the Blue Max entry in which Rusty Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship, Funny Car winner at the spring race in 1975, 1976, 1979 and 1981 and the fall event in 1976.
Connie Kalitta, Top Fuel winner at the fall race in 1979 and 1980.
Ron Colson, former IHRA Vice-President/Communications, spring Funny Car winner in 1974.
Fred Mandoline, crew chief to 2003 NHRA U.S. Nationals Funny Car champion Tim Wilkerson, Top Alcohol Funny Car winner at the 1998 Winston Invitational.
Carl Olson, former NHRA Vice-President and current SEMA executive, Top Fuel winner at the 1972 spring race.
"TV Tommy" Ivo, star of the 1960s TV series "My Little Margie," Top Fuel winner in the spring in 1973.
Billy Meyer, owner of Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, and, for a year, the owner of the IHRA, Funny Car winner at both Rockingham events in 1984.
Richard Tharp, a 1999 inductee into the Don Garlits Drag Racing Hall of Fame, Funny Car winner in the fall of 1972 at the wheel of Harry Schmidt's Blue Max in which he defeated Shirley Muldowney in the final round.
Don Schumacher, whose son, Tony, has clinched the 2004 NHRA Top Fuel championship, Funny Car winner at the fall race in 1971.
Terry Earwood, chief instructor for Skip Barber Driving Schools and brother of Rockingham Dragway owner Steve Earwood, Super Stock winner in the spring race in 1973 and the fall race in 1976.
Fayetteville's Chip Johnson, Stock winner at both races in 1988; runner-up in last April's Spring Nationals.
Austin Coil, who has crewed John Force to 12 NHRA Funny Car Championships Championships since 1990, owner and tuner of the "Chi-Town Hustler" Funny Car Denny Savage drove to victory in the 1978 spring race.
Kenny Bernstein, the 2001 NHRA Top Fuel Champion and the only driver to win titles in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Funny Car winner at the 1979 U.S. Open.