Rockingham Revival!

story and photos by Tim Hailey

Giving up the break in the far lane, Richard Gadson looks over at Chris Moore and waits to hit

When the world economy plummeted in the fall of 2008, attendance at Mickey Thompson MIRock Superbike Series events at Rockingham Dragway dipped along with it. But if the health of motorcycle drag racing is an economic indicator, then things are looking up. “This is our best MIRock event since 2009,” Rockingham owner Steve Earwood said at noon on Saturday, well before the Grudge pits filled and brought along the fans who love them. And while 48 Afterdark Underground grudge bikes may not be the 100+ that The Rock has seen in the past, it’s a promising step in the right direction.

In fact, the Adams Performance Spring Bike Open—the first MIRock round of 2014—was such a feel-good event, that no one even complained when rain, wind and unseasonable cold shut Rockingham down after only one round of eliminations on Sunday. Sportsman purses were split, Pro classes postponed until MIRock returns to The Rock in August, and there was nary a frown in the crowd. Rockingham is the spiritual home of motorcycle drag racing, and The Rock as we’ve all known it is back!

Pro Street champ Joey Gladstone (on the bike) laughs as his brother grabs his own ass

It’s always a good sign when frustrated track staff are trying to clear the starting line of people, and Saturday night the line was clogged like a bad drain. The peak of the evening was the final round of Orient Express Pro Street qualifying, and everyone was packing in to see the 650 horsepower, street tire bikes assault Rockingham’s PJ1-prepped quarter mile. In the end it was champion Joey Gladstone and the brand new, turbocharged, DME Suzuki Hayabusa that ruled the class with a 6.98 at 210 mph.

Gladstone shook off the laughs to put the new DME ‘Busa on the PST pole

Actually, the DME bikes of Gladstone, Jason Dunigan, Terence Angela and Ehren Litten locked out the top 4 qualifying spots and were all still alive when racing ended on Sunday. “Would’ve been an all-DME semifinal,” predicted DME boss Dimey Eddinger, and they’ll get a chance to prove it against Darion “Nanu” Payne, Rendolf Torbed, defending race winner Doug Gall, and John Gover in August.

Ryan Scnitz shows the stress as Cecil Towner leans in…their HTP team struggled with a switch to MTC Gen 2s this weekend

Super Dave Stewart led DME Real Street with a 7.92

Super Dave Stewart led DME Real Street qualifying on his turbo ‘Busa, and will face Cameron Teasley in August’s round 2. Perennial Real Street champion Jeremy Teasley (Cameron’s brother) faced his owner/tuner Roger Starrette in round 1, as Big Man Starrettte shed 35 pounds to get back in the saddle. Perhaps Starrette needed a sandwich in a hurry, as he redlit against Teasley in E1. Jeremy faces Eddie “Who” Chapman in August, and teammate David Merks faces fellow big man Anibel Merced.

Eran Pielert led Louis Concrete 4.60 qualifying with a 4.615

Maryland racer Eran Pielert led Louis Concrete 4.60 qualifying with a 4.615, then advanced to round 2 where he will face Baybay Yarbrough in August. Barry Harvey, Ronnie Smith, Dale Niles, and Kevin White also advanced, but not champion Kenny Cornnell.

Jay Windsor qualified #1 for Trac King/APE Top Sportsman

Jay Windsor qualified #1 for Trac King/APE Top Sportsman, but fell victim to a somewhat chaotic series of events as weather moved in. First, high winds blew a piece of paper through the lights in his E1 match-up against Robert Parker. A sprinkle then caused a short delay after the burnout in the re-run and Windsor’s now cold, big tire spun helplessly when the lights finally came down.

Bob Carlson qualified #1 in Cycle Connection Crazy 8s

Riding a wave after collecting his Street ET Tournament of Champions trophy, Connecticut Kawasaki Kingpin Bob Carlson qualified #1 in a 40 bike Cycle Connection Crazy 8s field with a perfect 8.880 on the 8.88 index. Kyle Olson qualified #1 in the FBR Shop 5.60 eighth mile index class with a 5.613 on his ’12 ‘Busa.

Out of the darkness emerges the starting line demon that is Dustin Lee

Saturday night’s Nitrous Express Pro ET win went to Tennessee’s Dustin Lee over Michael “Ice Cold Killer” Herman Jr. in the final, Fun For All Motorsports racer Ron Arnold beat legendary Virginian Boo Brown in Saturday’s Brock’s Performance Street ET final. This excellent race was decided at the tree as both racers nailed their dial-in.

Ron Arnold gazes intently towards his Brock’s Performance Street ET win

Saturday night’s Afterdark Undergound banged with the energy that made The Rock famous. Big Money race of the night was Lavar “Lil’ Charlie” Delee on HTP Performance’s “Mandingo” vs. Jeremy Teasley on Country’s Adams Performance-prepped ‘Busa, with Mandingo staging with the back tire. “It’ll be whoever doesn’t spin,” said Teasley, and that turned out to be Mandingo. In other action, Richard Gadson and Chris Moore swapped rides and wins on a ZX14 vs. ‘Busa battle.

Lavar “Lil’ Charlie” Delee burns out HTP Performance’s “Mandingo”

All which means that the MIRock Superbike Series will have to wait ‘til August to return to The Rock, but heads to Maryland International Raceway for the Fast by Gast Spring Nationals on April 25-27, 2014. You know where you gotta be!

Find out more about PJ1 motorcycle products

Find out more about the Mickey Thompson Performance Tires MIRock Super Bike Series

Find out more about Rockingham Dragway

EARLIER: Racing Weather at The Rock

Eliminations underway early

EARLIER: The Rock is BACK!

Crowds, Energy and Action are BANGIN’

Gladstone 6.98, Stewart 7.92 at The Rock

Champion Joey Gladstone rode the new DME ‘Busa to the top of the Pro Street chart

EARLIER: MIRock Kicks Off at Rockingham

Are you ready for more racing into a beautiful Rockingham sunset?

The world’s largest motorcycle drag racing organization—the Mickey Thompson MIRock Superbike Series—kicks off the 2014 season with the Adams Performance Spring Bike Open at legendary Rockingham Dragway. Steve Earwood’s hardworking staff will be spraying plenty of PJ1 record-setting traction compound to keep the power of the world’s quickest streetbikes in check and perhaps launch these beasts into crowd-pleasing, mid-track wheelies.

Joey Gladstone’s new DME ‘Busa promises to be even more smokin’ hot than this one

Orient Express Pro Street champ Joey Gladstone returns to The Rock from Delaware with a brand new, turbocharged, DME Suzuki Hayabusa. Maybe DME tuner Andy Sawyer picked up a speed trick or two from his hectic winter Arabian Drag Racing League season at the Qatar Racing Club in Doha, but either way we can expect to see mid-to-low 6.90s out of this exquisite motorcycle.

Terrence Angela’s decompressed from a winter of underwater welding and ready to tear it up

Gladstone will have to contend with DME teammate (and Battle Royale winner) Terrence Angela of Aruba, and Massachusetts’ Tony Ficher aboard a brand new, deafeningly loud, supercharged ‘Busa. Ficher’s builder/tuner Eric Paquette also spent some time in Qatar this winter, and you can bet this new bike will be a radically refined version of the first one.

Race sponsor Coby Adams of Mooresville is working hard to get his turbo Kawasaki ZX14 together and up to speed, and a whole host of contenders will be battling to emerge as big-timers.

What color ZX14 will Jeremy Teasley be racing in Real Street this year?

Adams has also prepared engines for longtime racing partner Roger Starrette’s many nitrous-huffing Kawasaki ZX14s in DME Real Street—Pro Street’s slightly milder cousin. Starrette’s star rider Jeremy Teasley of Ohio claimed his incredible fifth Real Street title in multiple sanctions last year and will be hard to beat for a sixth.

Will Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin let Teasley get a headstart on points this weekend?

But Florida’s Johnny “Turbo” Dobrin has beaten Teasley for a Real Street championship, and although he said he might step back a bit in 2014, expect the racing bug to be biting him hard as this release goes to print, and his own Exoticycle turbo ‘Busa to roll off the trailer at The Rock.

Last year, Darion “Nanu” Payne made a hard charge from mid-season on, and recently tested with a super-stout 7.78. Expect Nanu to make an other-worldly effort this weekend on his Mike Mace Motorsports bike.

Teasley on his Crazy 8s ZX14R

Teasley also won the hotly contested Cycle Connection Crazy 8s 8.88 index championship on his own ZX14R. This is annually one of the hardest fought, down-to-the-wire MIRock classes and the race at The Rock will be no different.

FBR Shop 5.60 eighth mile index champion Marion Ford will be back to defend his title

FBR Shop 5.60 eighth mile index champion Marion Ford will be back to defend his title, as will first-ever Louis Concrete 4.60 champion Kenny Cornnell. Virginia’s “Hillbilly Hustler” Jimmy Shifflett will attempt to fend off all challenges to his Trac King/APE Top Sportsman crown, while Connecticut Kingpin Bob Carlson defends his Brock’s Performance Street ET Tournament of Champions win and Michael Herman Jr. does likewise in Nitrous Express Pro ET.

Michael Herman Jr. hopes to start 2014 off with a Nitrous Express Pro ET win and then some

And all bets are ON when Afterdark Undergound hits the stage with the region’s quickest Grudge bikes and fastest trash talkers.


Years from now there will be only one shameless answer to the question “Were you at the start of the 2014 MIRock season?” Make sure you are not shamed!

Find out more about PJ1 motorcycle products

Find out more about the Mickey Thompson Performance Tires MIRock Super Bike Series

Find out more about Rockingham Dragway