© (2001) Dwight Drum


Steve Earwood
Rockingham Dragway

Ever wonder what it's like to own a racetrack? Steve Earwood's insightful answers about the pleasures and woes of ownership should satisfy your need to know. Talking to Steve is a joy. When we cyber-swapped questions and answers I was also pleased to see the depth of character it takes to own and promote a drag strip.

Owners don't get paychecks, and they have to be keen to get paydays. They depend upon riders, drivers, teams, sponsors, and fans…people like you and me to pay the bills and make a profit. Owners must eat too, and they have to pay out a lot more money than most before they have any money left to put food on the table. Step into Steve Earwood's busy shoes for about 700 words or so and feel what racing moments mean to him.


What do you like most about your job?

"Making the two large notes due annually at the bank! Actually it is most gratifying to conceive events, fabricate them, then produce and conduct the event successfully that is profitable and enjoyable for the competitors, the sponsors, and the fans. I also like continuing to update our facility and to improve on our events."

If you could change one thing about drag racing, what would it be?

"Eliminate the whining. The bike racers are the most accommodating group we have -- they tend to be more appreciative of our efforts. A lot, by no means not all, of the bracket car group tends to complain about the most insignificant stuff."

Do you have a nickname?

"Some of the staff refer to me as "Big Money", not in front of me."

What do you do to relax?

"Spend time with the Lord. Been known to occasionally toke on a good cigar. Take my lovely wife Maryann to Bermuda each summer."

Do you have time for a hobby?

"No. My career is my hobby."

What's most important?
1.Fame 2.Money 3.Thrill/fun 4.Achievement

"Achievement is first, money a close second. Fame is for fools, the thrill and fun was taken out a long time ago."

What ethic, what plan do you stress to your employees to get the most out of your organization?

"The customer has got to come first. Whatever the problem, find a solution that satisfies the customer. 3% of the folks are never going to be satisfied, we're better off without them as they produce 80% of the problems."

Are you happy?

"Reasonably. Show me someone who is never depressed and I will show you a liar. Or a lawyer. I have found that most folks are as happy as they want to be."

What could make you happier?

"Perfect health, enough money in the bank and rain-free race weekends."

When Frustrated, What do you do first?
1. Erupt 2. Withdraw 3. Try to be cool. 4.Other

"Try to maintain a calmness. It is hard to find a workable solution when you are ticked off. I usually take a deep breath, then search for a way out."

Where do you find the most peace in your life?

"In the Lord."

What got you started in the Drag Racing business?

"My dad has always had neat cars, primarily sports cars. He has had something like 80 Porsches, currently has two Jags. My older brother, Terry, has had performance cars since we were kids, a '57 Chevy being his first car, so I was always around performance. My dad raced sports cars when I was a kid so we were at a road race about every weekend while growing up. When I turned 13 my mom gave me a subscription to Hot Rod Magazine. A guy named Wally Parks was the editor and each month his editorial addressed this thing called the National Hot Rod Association that he was trying to get off the ground. He organized the "Safety Safari" and they were producing drag races across the country on abandoned airports. I told my mom that " I'm going to go work for this guy when I grow up". Well, long story short, Wally hired me in 1975 to assist with NHRA's press and publicity. Worked with him for 11 years and now have realized a dream-come-true by owning a national event facility."

What worries you the most?

"Not being able to satisfy my financial obligations. It takes $50,000 a month to operate this facility and I am at the mercy of the weather station. My faith helps an awful lot with that worry."

Can you describe your self in three words?

" Focused, driven and innovative. Some may say egotistical, but that is probably one of the ingredients to be successful."

Who means the most to you?

"The Lord would be first, my wife would be second."

What worries you most?

"Rain on race weekend."

What personal attribute that you know you possess, would you want to pass on to others?

"Strong work ethic."

You're an owner. When you are at the track. What scares you the most?

"Accidents and injuries."

Additional Comments?

"I appreciate this opportunity to work with you. I hope to see all your readers at one of our events."


Steve Earwood keeps his track on track, and his chartered course straight and going. I searched and found a descriptive word for him that shows competence, reverence and respect. Steve may be the boss…but both Gary and I agreed his congenial personality earns him a word that describes all the attributes of a likeable owner and a skilled manager. Steve Earwood is the…