Southern Pines resident and Rockingham Dragway owner Steve Earwood is being honored for lifetime contributions to the sport during the June 15-16 17th annual NHRA Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend Raceway.
Earwood, who is credited with putting straight-line racing on the media map while serving as NHRA’s Media Relations Director in the 1970s and early ‘80s, will be honored Friday in formal recognition ceremonies at the National Corvette Museum.
Produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif., and sponsored by AAA Insurance, the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion and the companion California Hot Rod Reunion at Bakersfield, Calif., feature nostalgic race cars competing in a host of categories along with static displays of many of the classic vehicles that helped propel the sport to international stature.
The 2016 recipient of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame’s Founder’s Award, Earwood also is a member of both the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the NHRA Southeast Division Hall of Fame. He is a founding member of the North Carolina Motorsports Association and has served on the Governor’s Motorsports Advisory Council.
After directing NHRA’s national media program for eleven seasons, Earwood was Marketing Vice-President at Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex and Vice-President and General Manager of Atlanta Dragway before realizing a lifelong dream of track ownership with his 1992 purchase of Rockingham.
Under his direction, the NHRA Winston Invitational, which was contested at Rockingham from 1992 through 1998, became the most successful All-Star event in drag racing history leading, in 1994, to his acceptance of the NHRA’s “Man of the Year” Award in the Southeast region.
His tireless effort to keep the track viable in an ever-changing marketplace and to promote Carolina tourism also led to his acceptance, in 2010, of Richmond County’s “Citizen of the Year” award.