ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A racetrack in Richmond County is shovel-ready for millions of dollars in upgrades, with a goal of luring NASCAR back to the track.
NASCAR last visited Rockingham Speedway in 2013 for a standalone Camping Work Truck Series race. Since then the track has changed ownership and was awarded $9 million as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Track leaders tell Queen City News the money is now in their hands and equipment is on-site to prepare for a repave of the track this month. The schedule, weather permitting, calls for work to begin between October 24 and 26 with a scheduled completion of December 1.
There is a backup plan in place for the unpredictable North Carolina weather, which includes milling the track this month and waiting to repave in the spring.
Justin Jones, Vice President of Operations at Rockingham Speedway, says the goal is to attract major racing series like the CARS Tour, ARCA, Formula Drift and NASCAR.
“My goal when I first took this position was to rebuild the foundation of Rockingham in hopes of inserting Rockingham back in the foundation of NASCAR,” said Jones.
Rockingham was a staple on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule until the final event in February 2004. The racing surface at that time was already abrasive and had weathered over time. The asphalt is estimated to be more than 30 years old, with core samples showing at least 3 to 4 repaves in the past.
The repave scheduled for this month will cost a little more than $3 million. Rockingham has signed a deal with Sunmount Paving and Carolina Design and Construction. Sunmount has paved NASCAR tracks in the past, including Texas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Following the repave, track leaders plan to add lights and remodel corporate suites. If the plans sound familiar, that’s because they are.
Upgrades are currently underway at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which is owned by Speedway Motorsports. Rockingham Speedway is independently owned.
“Our ownership is definitely different than SMI or some of the other larger ownership groups throughout motorsports, but that is not to say that we are not as able or willing to get as knee-deep into the industry as we want to,” said Jones.
North Wilkesboro Speedway was backed by immense community support. Richmond County is said to be showing that same enthusiasm.
“If I go to dinner or something like that, it’s when are you bringing NASCAR back? When are you bringing racing back,” said Jones.
Although the overall goal and headline series would be NASCAR, Rockingham track leaders are also focusing on grassroots racing.
There are plans for the 0.526-mile “Little Rock”, built behind the backstretch of the larger track, to also see upgrades. Work will include adding lights, 5,000 seats, bathrooms and concession stands.
As for NASCAR on the larger track, the 2023 schedule is already set, but NASCAR executives have hinted at sweeping changes coming for the 2024 schedule.