ROCKINGHAM — Trey Sikes’s grandfather drag raced in the ’60s and his father did the same in the ’80s, so it comes as no surprise that he took up the sport when he turned 15 and received his driver’s permit.
Growing up in Hamlet, it also helped that Rockingham Dragway was just a short drive away. The first race he won was when he was 16 at The Rock.
“Back then, they called the class the trophy street,” he said of his first foray into drag racing. “There was no money. It was more for bragging rights. It was something to do for a bunch of guys that were learning how to race.”
Sikes is 29 now, and with all that experience under his belt, he’s turned his talent into a world championship.
He won the National Hot Rod Diesel Association’s Sportsman class world title during the weekend of Oct. 2-4 at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. He did so driving his 2010 Volkswagen Jetta with a pass of 15.61, clocking in at 85.08 miles per hour.
“It’s handicapped like in golf,” Sikes said about the format. “In golf, I can beat Tiger Woods any given day as long as I play well. The way we race, the slower car gets a head start so the more consistent car wins the race. The better reaction time plays into it as well. I had a good reaction time, so that’s what won me the race.”
Sikes has also raced in Bakersfield, California, Chicago and Billings, Montana this year as part of the tour, but on Friday, he found himself a little closer to home for a local diesel race at Piedmont Dragway in Burlington.
“It’s just another race for me,” Sikes said. “Throughout the year I run a VW series. I’ve already got the VW points championship wrapped up. This is actually the third year in a row I’ve won that series with SEVWA”
On Saturday, Sikes will make his way to Atlanta for the NHRA division two-team final. It features drag racers from all over the Southeast and is set up as a team competition. The more rounds a team wins, the better the finish. Sikes said that not only could his team win a championship, but there’s also opportunities to win individual trophies.
As a pharmacist for Rite-Aid in Laurinburg for the last five years after graduating from Wingate University, his job in addition to drag racing take up a good amount of his year. The official NHRA diesel-series season starts in March in California and ends in Texas in October with the World Finals. Drag racing, Sikes said, is year-round event, so he’s already gearing up for next year.
Where and when races take place during the winter months depend on weather, especially in January and February, said Sikes, but most of the sanctioning divisions will begin in March.
“I picked up a new car a couple of months ago — a 2008 Pontiac GT,” said Sikes. “The second weekend I had it about a month ago in Ohio for the MECA Muscle Car Association, I won that race. It was a national event. I’ve had a good couple of months.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.