Steve Earwood

Steve Earwood at Rockingham Dragway. Abbi Overfelt/The Pilot

Rockingham Dragway owner and Southern Pines resident Steve Earwood was recognized at the 56th annual NHRA Southeast Division awards banquet.

For the third straight year, Earwood accepted the divisional Contributor of the Year award from National Dragster magazine, the publication widely considered “the bible of NHRA drag racing.”

A member of the Southeast Division Hall of Fame, Earwood accepted the award on behalf of his staff and racers.

The ceremony was held at the Jekyll Island, Ga., Convention Center just one day after Earwood had inked an agreement with NHRA Division Director Rich Schaefer to bring the Southeast Division ET Finals to his track on Oct. 8-11.

That event, expected to attract more than 450 racers from 21 tracks in six states and Puerto Rico previously was contested at the NHRA-owned Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla.

The NHRA’s Summit ET Series is the world’s largest motorsports program in terms of racer participation. Upwards of 75,000 racers will compete for points this season in seven geographical regions with a chance, ultimately, to compete in Pomona, Calif., for national championships during the season-ending Auto Club Finals, the last of 24 races in the NHRA’s Mello Yello pro series.

“Many racers can't travel across the country to participate (at the professional level),” said Jeff Winters, Summit Racing marketing manager. "The NHRA Summit Racing Series gives weekly racers an opportunity to be more than a champion in their division – they have a shot at winning a national championship. There are racers in the series who would otherwise not be able to compete at such a level, and we're happy to support such a program."

“For us, getting the ET finals is a really big deal,” Earwood said, “especially since we can plug it into the schedule the weekend after we play host to the NHRA’s Lucas Oil Series and National Open Series, essentially creating an NHRA triple header over two back-to-back weekends.”

As for again receiving Dragster's Contributor of the Year award, Earwood said it never gets old.

“Phil Burgess and the Dragster staff still provide a forum for bracket racing and sportsman racing,” Earwood said. “It’s one thing to cover the pros, but the truth is, they don’t work any harder at their trade than some of the guys who show up at The Rock every weekend for the MXA Street Drags. Dragster understands that.”

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