ROCKINGHAM, N.C. --
True, there'll be no free lunch when the ADRL pros return next week (March 9-10) to Steve Earwood's Rockingham Dragway for Dragpalooza IX, the first race in a new season, but with the money spectators save on free tickets, they can buy lunch - and a lot more.
The organization that 10 years ago introduced the free ticket giveaway that produced the largest one day attendance in Rockingham history, returns after a two-year hiatus with founder Kenny Nowling and his wife Jessica back at the reins.
Nowling said the new ADRL will operate just like the old one but with a few different new features including a separate Pro Modified class along with Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme divisions plus the addition of the popular Top Sportsman and Top Dragster classes.
Rules for the "new" Pro Modified division, which already has attracted entries from former IHRA Pro Stock champion Rickie Smith, will be the same as those used in the NHRA Pro Mod class in which Smith won last year at Gainesville, Fla., and Bristol, Tenn.
In fact, the King resident, father of former NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion Matt Smith, is the only driver in drag racing history to have won races in the IHRA Pro Stock division, NHRA Pro Stock division, IHRA Pro Mod division and NHRA Pro Mod division.
In addition to Pro Extreme, Pro Nitrous and Pro Modified, champions also will be crowned in Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, the aforementioned Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes and two Junior Dragster classes, Pro Junior and Top Junior.
While free tickets are available at a number of retail outlets and on line, those seeking a confirmed seat also will be accommodated. Seats in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Starting Line Grandstand are $20 Saturday; $10 Sunday.
For those seeking even greater comfort, a limited number of seats are available in the air conditioned President's Suite on the third floor of the operations tower for $75 a day or $110 for both days. The purchase of two event tickets in the President's Suite comes with a reserved parking spot adjacent to the tower. Otherwise, general parking is $20 per day.
Pre event testing for Dragpalooza entrants begins at 10 a.m. Thursday and continues on Friday. Spectators can attend the private test session for only $10 per day. Three pro qualifying rounds are scheduled Saturday, the first at 11:30 a.m. Sunday eliminations begin with a round of sportsman racing at 10 a.m. followed by the first round of pro racing at 11:30 a.m.
Among those expected to make a hard run at breaking the 4.00 second barrier in Extreme Pro Stock is Pete Berner, a six-time IHRA tour winner who won the 2006 IHRA Pro Stock Championship. The Top Sportsman field also will include Lizzy Musi, the 22-year-old daughter of Outlaw racing legend Pat Musi, who is taking a year off from driving to focus on his engine-building business now open in Mooresville, N.C.
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