On Friday, April 12, ThunderFest will rock downtown Rockingham in Harrington Square in celebration of NASCAR returning to Rockingham Speedway, a.k.a. The Rock.
The event will open at 11 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. and will include a free kids zone with racing-themed inflatables, a rock wall and laser tag which are all sponsored by Richmond County government. ThunderFest is tied into the weekend of the biggest race of the year, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock Presented by Cheerwine, scheduled for Sunday, April 14.
A mechanical bull will also be at the event for anyone wishing to test their riding skills. The bull costs $5 to ride and will be located adjacent to the beer garden. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Rockingham Kiwanis. There will be free caricature drawings from 4 to 7 p.m.
“I think it’s a plus that we have ThunderFest. I think it shows NASCAR that we are happy to have them back,” said Kim Williams, City of Rockingham events coordinator.
She said NASCAR has been really please with ThunderFest and “the amount of support that comes from the community.”
At 5 p.m., PondeR will rock the stage, courtesy of Pee Dee EMC, and at 6 p.m. the Hauler’s Parade will make its way through downtown. “The Hauler’s are going to the parade through ThunderFest, that’s going to make it a little more involved this year,” Williams said. At 8 p.m., also courtesy of Pee Dee EMC, Craig Woolard will take the stage.
On Friday at the track, from 1 to 1:55 p.m., there will be UARA practice; from 2 to 2:55 p.m., there will be FKSSN practice; from 3 to 3:55 p.m., there will be UARA final practice; and from 4:05 to 4:30 p.m. there will be FKSSN qualifying.
The festivities before the big race continue with some smaller races and a pre-race concert on Saturday, April 13, at the Rockingham Speedway on Highway U.S. 1, just north of Rockingham. Tickets to the Saturday or Sunday race grants free admission.
On the track Saturday, the NCWTS garage opens at 8 a.m.. At 11:10 a.m., there will be the two lap UARA qualifier.
From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. there will be NCWTS practice. At 1:40 p.m. there will be UARA introductions and at 2 p.m. the UARA race, which is 75 laps, will take place. From 3 to 4 p.m. there will be NCWTS final practice. At approximately 4:15 p.m., there will be the FKSSN driver introductions and the FKSSN race, which is 100 laps, will be begin at approximately 4:45 p.m. At 6 p.m. the NCWTS garage closes.
Once the garage closes, musicians will take the stage for the concert. The music begins at 6 p.m., outside of turn 2, with the Chris Lane Band gracing the stage. At 7:40 p.m. Ty Brown will take the stage and at 9:15 p.m. the final band, Hoss Howard Band, will play.
The weekend will end with race day on Sunday, April 14. At 8 a.m. the NCWTS garage and registration opens and at 11:05 a.m. the two lap NCWTS qualifying race will take place. The final race, which is 200 laps, will begin at 2 p.m.
County Manager and Economic Development Director Rick Sago said ThunderFest is extremely important and a good event. “It helps us entertain the folks here and show them Richmond County is serious about the event. Also, the City of Rockingham does a great job organizing the event,” Sago said.
Sago also said the event helps boost the economy in Rockingham because it draws people into the downtown area.
Ticket prices for The Rock range from $20 to $35 and can be purchased by visiting www.rockinghamspeedway.com and clicking on the ticket tab at the top of the website. They can also be purchased by calling 910-205-8800.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: The original article had two errors that have been corrected. This is the correct version. We apologize for these mistakes.