: What was your first drag car and where did you race it?

SE: Always knew better than to have my own racecar. However, I spent many a race weekend with my brother, Terry, who drag raced everything from an MGA to Bill Tanner’s ’68 Hemi Dart to the Bowers Brothers ’ ‘72 Hemi Cuda to a series of Super Stock Hemis for Steve Bagwell.

:  How did you get involved in the business of promoting drag racing? What was your first job in the business?

SE: Managed Gainesville Raceway with my brother in 1971, then ran the Southern Pro Stock Circuit for a couple of years. My racers included Hubert Platt, Sam Carroll, Roy Hill, Reid Whisnant, Lamar Walden, among others. Would book the group into some real cow pastures. Would charge the track a fee plus charge the racers a percentage of what I paid them.  It was pretty lucrative for the early ‘70s.

: You and Dave Densmore (John Force’s longtime publicist) have been friends and business partners for more than 35 years. How did that partnership come about?

SE: Dave McClelland (head of the NHRA press department at the time) hired me to promote the 1975 Gatornationals, a one-time deal. Densy was the publicist; I was the advance man putting his great press releases into the right hands. Attendance was up some 20% and we generated more press in Florida than ever for the Gatornationals. At the conclusion of the event Wally Parks walked up to me and said, “Son, I want you to promote all of NHRA’s events.”

From left, Brother Terry, father Charlie and Steve Earwood.  (DRO file photo)

: When did you get into the track operator/promoter business and what caused that?

SE: After the success at the 1975 Gatornationals track owners started calling me to promote their events, Warner Robbins, Ga., Blaney, SC, mainly tracks in the Southeast. It was an easy way for me to make a living.  I saw what worked and what didn’t at those and other tracks and I began making mental notes about what I would do differently if I had a track of my own.  Plus, I saw our efforts at national events making a few folks millionaires and I thought, ‘I want a seat at that table.’  After I managed Atlanta Dragway with Moose Pearah, I began looking for opportunities and in 1992 I was able to buy Rockingham Dragway.

: You have worked with and for some of the greatest personalities in drag racing history, To list just a few: Wally Parks, Larry Carrier, Billy Meyer, Bill Bader, George Howard,  Kenny Nowling and Roy Hill.  Is there one of those who affected your life more than the rest and why?

SE: Wally Parks, by far. He was a true gentleman and had more enthusiasm and professionalism for this sport than any one individual I have ever worked with. Wally has probably made more millionaires than Bill Gates by creating the NHRA. Think about the Edelbrocks, the Morosos, all the after-market companies, track owners and racers who’ve done well because of Wally’s vision and creation.