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Top-Shelf Show—Muscle machines climbed to new heights to put on a show at Rockingham Dragway

Posted By: Evan J. Smith

Top-Shelf ShowMuscle machines climbed to new heights to put on a show at Rockingham Dragway


A signature of the Rockingham Dragway facility, the concrete grandstands climb up to the Top of the Rock, a paved perch that offers a scenic view of the racing below. With the return of the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport, this unique spot served as the location for both the UPR Products car show and the new Top of the Rock fan experience (see sidebar).


Along with the new location and Top of the Rock action, there were food trucks mixed in with show cars offering fans a great environment for experiencing the racing and the wide variety of show cars on display. Judging the diverse lineup of show machines was tasked to the Unstabled Mates Mustang Club, which made the trip up to The Rock from Georgia.


In all the show vibe was great, so it should be bigger and better next year, but until then, we are hitting some highlights from this year’s event.


Since the event took place on the eve of Global Mustang Day, a.k.a April 17, it was appropriate that Ron Davis’ gorgeous 1965 Mustang attracted the attention of the judges. This striking restomod sports bright orange paint, a low-slung stance, Baer brakes, and a small-block upgrade with Edelbrock bits, and individual-throttle induction. Davis drove home to Kannapolis, North Carolina with the Best of Show award in tow.


However, it wasn’t all about the Mustang at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport. Tony Scott rumbled up the hill in his stunning 1967 Camaro and drove away with two honors — Best Body & Paint as well as Fastest Street Car Editor’s Choice for Best Classic. Riding just right on Weld Racing wheels, it sports a turbo LS underhood, which is supported by Holley EFI gear. It has the muscle back up its looks.


Representing the Mopar crowd in style, Colby Lee’s 2017 Dodge Challenger flexed its way to Best Chrysler Muscle honors at Rockingham Dragway.


You don’t see many old-school Mavericks in the wild these days, especially any as tricked out as Derek Harp’s 1972 Grabber. His bright-green machine is modded to the hilt, including a carbureted small-block upgraded with Edelbrock hardware and an MSD ignition. Rolling on classic American Racing wheels, it earned Best Ford Muscle honors atop the rock.


Another modded classic took home some hardware at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE MotorsportRobert Moore’s 1972 Monte Carlo is dressed up with plenty of chrome and polish, and underhood it benefits from Edelbrock gear. It rumbled away with the Best GM Muscle award.


It was the ProCharged V6 under the hood that lured our cameras to James Torrelli’s 2014 Mustang. However, it was its internal beauty that earned the appreciation of the judges atop The Rock. He drove home to Statham, Georgia, with the Best Interior award.


One look at Randall Snider’s 1985 Mustang GT and you knew it was scoring an award. His four-eye Fox is thoroughly modded inside and out. It sports plenty of chrome and polished flash balanced out by a blow-through, carb-style EFI setup boosted by a ProCharger. His ride earned Best Pro Street/Race Car honors at Rockingham Dragway.


With the return of the Bronco in modern form, the classic machines are hotter than ever. Bill Weaver’s orange 1976 climbed up The Rock and rolled back down with the 

Best Truck award.


While several modified cars took home hardware from the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport, there were some nice stock rides there as well. A case in point is Johnny Castle’s 1970 Boss Mustang, which earned Director’s Choice Conservative honors.


On the modified end of the spectrum, Brandon Hunt’s 2013 Mustang GT sports a generous dose of hydro-dipping under the hood. His Coyote also breathes deeper courtesy of a Holley intake and a PMAS cold-air intake. His ride scored the Fastest Street Car Editor’s Choice for Best Modern at The Rock.


Who doesn’t love a big Roots blower towering from an engine compartment? Ryan Jones’ 1967 Plymouth GTX was an imposing sight at the Top of the Rock, and it scored a Special Recognition award at the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport.



Top of the Rock

Rockingham Dragway was built in 1969 by developers Bill Land and L.G. Dewitt as a companion to the NASCAR oval track that occupied real estate across U.S. Highway 1. And much like its sister tracks Bristol Dragway, Darlington Dragway, and Atlanta Dragway, the track features a unique layout with an elevated concrete grandstand that lines the spectator side of the quarter-mile.


Not only do the grandstands provide a more than suitable viewing area, but the top of the hill adjacent to the stands also provided the perfect spot for the Top of the Rock” experience presented by Innovation Performance Technologies.


While enjoying an unobstructed on-track action, the many fans who visited the Top of the Rock during last weekends 15th Annual NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport also got to check out the UPR Products Car Show, visit with several manufacturers and food vendors, and check out the legendary Bigfoot, the worlds best-known monster truck. The Top of the Rock zone also featured interactive displays where fans could earn prizes. 


It should not be surprising that the Innovation Performance Technologies booth was a top attraction for the Rockingham crowd. Fans were able to get an up close and personal look at some of Innovations handiwork. The company specializes in taking classic muscle cars, including Mustangs and Camaros, and infusing them with todays technology to combine classic styling with modern performance and reliability.


Our cars are largely turn-key, high-end builds that combine the best of both worlds,” said Rob Kinnan, Innovatives VP of business development. We are a low-volume manufacturer, which allows us to focus on attention to detail.


Our customers can bring us an early Mustang and well typically swap it with a Coyote engine and perform all of the necessary upgrades including transmission, suspension, and everything else to make it fast, fun, and reliable.”


The Innovation Performance Technologies display was also host to several interactive fan activities including a wheel of fortune. The booth was manned during the weekend by Clarence Barnes, well-known TV and radio host, actor, news anchor, weathercaster, entertainment reporter, precision driver, car nut, and Chris the Car Guy. 


The 15th Annual All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsports represented the second time the NMRA and NMCA series’ have visited Rockingham Dragway. The track is currently in the middle of a multi-million-dollar renovation project that includes, among other things, a new racing surface. This years event was noticeably larger than the inaugural race in 2022 and Its a safe bet that fan-friendly activities such as the Top of the Rock played a significant role in fueling that growth. — by the FSC staff


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