One never knows what the next day is going to bring, and how that one day could influence not only our own life, but the lives of so many others. That one adventurous day could spark an excitement from within that could spread to an entire community. And that’s exactly what happened to Tracy Rogers.
Nestled in the northern part of Logan County lies the rural community of Prairie View, which is just a few miles south of Scranton, Arkansas. And between the pair, there are probably more drag racers located here per capita than anywhere else in Arkansas. The closest rival would more than likely be Greenbrier, Arkansas.
It was a few days after his high school graduation that Tracy Rogers would make his first trip to the races at the Centerville Dragstrip located in Centerville, Arkansas. The thousand foot facility was built and owned at the time by Wendell Frame, and drew many racers from western and central Arkansas on a bi weekly basis.
“A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to the drag races in Centerville, so I rode down there with him,” Rogers said. “A bunch of us from around here were always working on our cars and trucks, trying to make them go faster. And we would do a little street racing to go along with it.”
Tracy Rogers had obviously been bitten by the automotive performance bug before making his first trip to the Centerville Dragstrip. But it was what he discovered once inside the facility that fueled his passion for organized drag racing, and influenced a major part of a community.
“When I got to the drag strip I got to see what real horsepower was. There was some fast cars down there. Well, they were fast for the times,” Rogers said. “Plus those guys were involved in a structured form of competition and I decided that day that I wanted to be a part of it.”
A young Tracy Rogers would return to the Centerville Dragstrip with his Ford pickup truck and began racing in the street class. This is where Rogers began to learn and hone his skills that would later make him one of the top bracket racers in Arkansas.
“I’d been racing my old truck down there for a little while, when an older friend named Jerry Wewer asked me to help him get his car ready for the drag races. We got it ready and loaded it up on the back of my dad’s wrecker and headed out for Centerville.”
Two things unbeknownst to anyone at the dragstrip happened that day when Tracy Rogers and Jerry Wewer pulled into the pits. To begin with, Jerry Wewer became the first of a long list of Scranton area residents to follow Rogers to dragstrips and start competitive drag racing.
Secondly, no one probably noticed Wewer there that day, but it wouldn’t be long before he became a bracket racing household name winning countless rounds and races in the sport.
As Rogers’s involvement in the sport of drag racing continued, so did his interest in building horsepower. Prairie View, Arkansas just happened to be the home of David Rogers Garage. And David Rogers just happened to be Tracy Rogers’ dad.
“Me and my brother Tony started working in the garage at a young age. We would do engine exchanges at the shop. Then we bought some cylinder head equipment and started doing our own cylinder heads. And that eventually led us to buying the machines to recondition the blocks and then we began rebuilding the complete engines.”
As the drag racing bug continued its bite on both of the Rogers brothers, so did their passion for building horsepower, especially with the Ford engine. And over the many years, it would be hard to dispute the fact that they know how to make horsepower by the success that their engines have had on the track.
“We build for all makes,” Rogers said. “But for us there is just something special about the Ford engine. We just love to work on them.”
As Tracy Rogers drag racing career continued, in wasn’t long before he purchased a Ford mustang and stepped up in class as his racing got a little more serious. Bracket racing can be extremely competitive. But for Rogers himself, something was missing while he was making passes down the track. And in a sport where the automatic transmission rules the world, Rogers installed a standard transmission in the Mustang, and shifted his way on the bracket racing scene.
“I just felt that releasing the clutch at the start and shifting the transmission was just more fun during a race. Now of course I’ve torn up a lot more parts with the clutch and the transmission which caused me a lot more work during the week to get back to the track for the next race,” Rogers laughed.
As Rogers was enjoying his start in the sport of drag racing, the interest in the sport was sweeping the two community areas like a bad cold. Before Tracy Rogers knew it, David Rogers Garage had grown into the go-to place in the area for bracket style drag racing, encompassing some fourteen different racers at one time. And not only was there strength in numbers, but the northern Logan County gang started putting up a large number of round wins on each race day. This eventually translated into a northern Logan County driver to be competing in the final round for the win at the end of the race day.