Small-time Racing Provides Big Funby Jason Beck April 12, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Jason Beck
Rockfish Motorsports Speedway is proof big things can come in small packages. The dirt track near Raeford, N.C., gives half-scale cars full attention.
At only a fifth mile, the speedway is the perfect size for racing in the micro sprint, Legends Car and go-kart classes. While larger cars normally get top billing, the racers at Rockfish enjoy big speed on a small budget.
“I can do the same thing the late model and open wheel modified guys can do, for half the price,” said Gary Jacobson of Grays Creek, N.C., who has been racing a micro sprint for six years. “The power to weight ratio of these is the exact same as an open wheel modified.”
Rockfish Motorsports Speedway was created in 2010 behind William “Brownie” Brown’s flea market. In its infancy the track was a mere path carved in the grass for rental go-karts. Each year the facility gradually progressed until 2013, when operators added banking to the clay surface, installed permanent walls, and invited sprint and Legends racers to test their luck.
The track’s small size compared to other dirt tracks in the area makes it well suited to the smaller cars.
“I love this place, the people who run it and the racetrack surface,” Jacobson said. “Compared to when we first started here, it is miles away.”
Colton Beasley was a fixture at Eastern North Carolina’s dirt tracks for years racing full-sized, V8 cars. When Rockfish opened only a few miles from his team’s Raeford headquarters, he quickly made the switch to micro sprints.
“They are a little bit cheaper and a little bit faster,” said Beasley, who won Saturday’s 270-sprint feature. “They are a little different to drive (than full-sized cars). It’s a more wide-open type of racing than anything else.”
Beasley, who is 6-feet, 6 inches tall, proves micro sprints are an adult-sized racing division. He flipped his sprint car last year at Rockfish without injury.
“That’s just open-wheel racing,” he said. “They are the exact same thing as a full-sized sprint car, just a little smaller.”
A typical 600cc micro sprint produces about 140 horsepower and weighs a scant 770 pounds. The racing is furious, with laps typically lasting less than 13 seconds. The Legends Cars are slower, but produce more rubbing and bumping.
Billy Gomez Jr., of Fayetteville, N.C., has raced and won in Legends Cars everywhere from Las Vegas to Atlanta Motor Speedway. When Rockfish opened he decided his days on the road were finished. Racing at a small dirt track close to home just made sense.
“It’s five minutes from the shop, and it costs maybe five bucks to get here. My wife will show up at race time; it costs her 10 bucks to get in, and I’ve got my son running a go-kart,” last year’s Rockfish Legends champion said. “They get the racing done quick, and I get the same amount of satisfaction.”
The driver – no stranger to spending money to win – said racing a Legends Car on dirt is also more cost effective.
“I’ve got a set of tires with 17 races on them,” he said, shortly before winning the night’s Legends feature.
It’s the lower budget approach that allows Brittany Trogdon of Gray’s Creek, N.C., to race. She’d love to move up to racing full-sized cars but is just as happy starring in Rockfish’s 600-sprint feature division.
“I’d love to move up, but just sticking with these is as much fun as anything you can run,” said the second-generation micro sprint racer. “They are fast, they are tricky when they want to be, but it is just fun.”
Rockfish Motorsports Speedway is one of the most family-friendly and affordable venues in the area, where only $10 will purchase admission and a pit pass. Though there are plenty of weekly competitors, all of the racers interviewed would love to see more fans in the bleachers.
Racing begins at 5 p.m. weekly, and Saturday night’s features finished by 8:30.
“It’s a little more laid back here,” said Beasley. “There are fewer divisions to watch, and you can go home at a decent hour.”