Big things are happening at the new and revised Rockingham Dragway. New owners Dan VanHorn and Al Gennarelli have been all ears, listening to the racers and fans when it comes to new and exciting events to bring back the heart of what “The Rock” was once known for. When Mark Rasberry, owner of NC Speed Lab, approached the duo about bringing back a series Rasberry used to race in from the late ‘90s to the early 2000s, they jumped on board.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #184, the State of Drag Special Issue, in September/October of 2023.]
With NC Speed Lab as the headlining sponsor, it not only sweetened the deal but took Rasberry back to the golden years of the series. That series was named the Holcomb Motorsports Civil Wars, which was started in 1993 by Kenny Holcomb as an outlet for Ford guys to have fun at the racetrack. The series was later opened to all makes and models and became the pinnacle for 10.5 racing through the 2010s. Civil Wars was one of the longest-running series in 10.5 drag racing before the radial tire craze took over, continuing as a spring race for two decades.
Things have changed for those original Civil War gearheads, such as Holcomb, who was on the property, since VanHorn and Gennarelli’s takeover. They walked into a completely new track surface, updated bathrooms, timing system, paint, and overall updated amenities.
Rasberry’s reinvented Civil Wars is an all-inclusive event for everyone. He had classes for daily drivers, bracket racers, and even a Mid-Track Madness no-prep race presented by At The Beach RV and hosted by no-prep guru John Phillips, also known as “Turbo John.”
Kevin Helmick piloted his Challenger they call “Grumpy Cat” to a 4.565 at 168.92 mph, taking the win in Outlaw Heavyweight. True Street ventured over to Rockingham Speedway, where they did laps around the track before going straight to the lanes for their competition passes; David Muth came out on top in his four-door Ford LTD, taking home the trophy. George Cunningam’s Nova, known as “Bad Apple” and driven by Landrum Gentry, wheelied into first place in Mid-Track Madness. Colman Heath was the top dog in Small Block Boost/Nitrous, taking home the victory in his Vega.
Mike Ingram won the prize for Saturday and Sunday’s footbrake classes. Other class winners include Anthony Cupolo in Pro Tree Doorslammers, Phillip Latham in Open Comp, Todd Comer in the 6.00 index class, Kenzie Whitley in Jr. Dragster, and Todd Buckner in 4.70 index.
We had food, drinks, and laughs while Rockingham natives John Norris and Erik Hawks played on stage on Friday. A Luke Bryan tribute, Ultimate Aldean, and a fireworks show topped off Saturday night’s festivities. Local vocalist Nikki Fletcher also performed the national anthem to kick things off on Saturday.
We were all pleased with how well it ran for the first three-day event and hoped to continue the tradition as a replacement for the previous popular series. I received nothing but positive vibes from both racers and fans. I look forward to seeing what Rasberry will do to improve the experience for the racers and fans.