‘PINKS’ returnsto ‘The Rock’this week

Special to the Laurinburg Exchange

ROCKINGHAM — A decade after it debuted to rave reviews and record-breaking numbers, the innovative reality series Hot Rod Magazine called “the hottest car show on television” returns this week to Rockingham Dragway.

“PINKS: All Out” is back and Rockingham owner Steve Earwood believes that in its third incarnation, it still resonates with grassroots drag racers.

“Every year, new racers come into the sport who have only heard about ‘PINKS,’” Earwood said. “Now they have a chance to live the ‘PINKS’ experience like Tracy Cockman did here in 2007.”

Cockman was a local racer who drove his Ford Mustang to a $10,000 payday when ‘PINKS’ first visited “The Rock.” Earwood said it is the chance to win that kind of money and do it in front of a national audience that continues to attract grassroots racers.

“Rich (Christensen, the visionary who created ‘PINKS’ and later, ‘PINKS: All Out’) came up with a concept that resonated with the weekend racer,” Earwood said. “These are the men and women who usually race in obscurity at tracks like mine just for the love of the sport.

“Most of them don’t have the money, the time or even the desire to race in the NHRA series, the IHRA series or the PDRA series but this is a one-shot deal to show off their cars and their skills on a national stage and, believe me, they’re just as proud of their racing as John Force is of his.”

Force is a 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champion.

One of the simplest yet most intriguing features of “PINKS” is the arm drop start developed by Christensen to negate all of the electronic aides that have ruined drag racing for so many traditionalists.

The arm drop start is only slightly removed from the flagged start that was used in drag racing’s formative years and it is so random that there is no way for the electronic “enhancers” to anticipate the start.

“It’s a fair system,” Earwood said. “It’s also good TV because Rich and Brian (Bossone, executive producer of the TV show) are the consummate showmen.”

The essence of the concept is the “negotiation” in which the car perceived to be the stronger of the two in competition is handicapped for such items as nitrous oxide use or weight or engine displacement.

The goal Wednesday through Saturday will be to find groups of vehicles, cars, trucks and motorcycles that are evenly matched to compete for the big money at the end of each day. Action on the track starts on Wednesday at noon and at 9 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Grudge races, quick eight races and daily testing will help set the final field and distribute some of the $30,000 in available cash and prizes. In addition to the racing, the rock group “All of a Kind” will perform on Thursday evening and there will be fireworks on Friday at the conclusion of the day’s competition.

Adult spectator and crew tickets are $15 daily. Children 11 and under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult and parking is free in Rockingham’s main lot. Limited camping is available along with preferred parking inside the track.