The legendary speedway has been tossed once more
All 1.017-miles of Rockingham Speedway are beloved by the core fanbase of NASCAR. Yet, since 2004, the track has been absent from the NASCAR Cup Series schedule following a lawsuit.
Now, Rockingham Properties LLC has purchased Rockingham Speedway. Dan Lovenheim is listed as the majority owner of the new company.
The company consists of a group of investors. The group from Raleigh, North Carolina finalized the paperwork to purchased the speedway on Thursday.
Lovenheim is also part owner of Capital City Tavern and other properties in Raleigh, North Carolina.
In November 2016, the property went up for sale at $6.85 million. It’s current value sits at $2,993,324.
The property is far more than the 1-mile oval. The complex also has a drag strip, a 0.526-mile titled ‘Little Rock’ with a 1/4 mile inside of that as well as a 1.6-mile road course.
Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson explained the decline in value to the Richmond County Daily Journal. He noted, “Key parts of the original structure no longer being there, the track not being used and the wear and tear associated with that.”
At one time, the property had empty lots which were saved for campers at NASCAR races. As that has been unused in years, solar farms have been placed on the empty lots.
Somewhat recently, signage has been taken down from the track. In addition, a permanent marker acknowledging Darrell Waltrip was removed from a parking lot. Each of those removals are due to a highway expansion of US Hwy 1. The highway runs directly next to the race track.
Those items above aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means a larger road is planned, right next to the race track. If the track re-opens, a larger entry road is certainly a positive.
Dan Lovenheim did not go into detail on his plans. Instead, he simply called them, “remarkably encompassing.”
It sounds like it could be great news for a track that’s been on an emotional roller coaster since about 2004.
Opening: Rockingham Speedway opened in 1965 as North Carolina Motor Speedway. In the 90’s the name was changed to North Carolina Speedway.
The NASCAR Cup Series made their debut at The Rock in 1982. One race turned into two dates. In 2004, the second race was removed from the schedule, leaving the lone event. Kasey Kahne won the lone remaining event.
Following the 2004 season, Rockingham Speedway was removed from the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series schedules entirely.
ISC purchased the track as part of the Penske Speedways package. Track included in that deal were: Nazareth Speedway, North Carolina Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway.
Ferko Lawsuit: Francis Ferko was a stockholder in Speedway Motorsports, Inc. SMI is the competing company of International Speedway Corporation.
Bill France, Sr founded ISC when he built Daytona International Speedway. Ferko noted the close ties of the France family to ISC in addition NASCAR in the lawsuit.
Note: Kentucky Speedway sued the ISC years for the same thing. Kentucky has since been sold to SMI.
In 2002, Ferko sued NASCAR and ISC for violating federal antitrust laws and breach of contract. He stated in the lawsuit that NASCAR made promises that Texas Motor Speedway would get a second NASCAR date. Texas is a track owned by SMI.
Initially, NASCAR CEO Brian France stated he would fight the lawsuit. In 2003, Rusty Vaughn joined the lawsuit on the side of Ferko.
In 2004, the case was settled out of court. In the settlement, Rockingham was sold to SMI. In turn, the last date from Rockingham Speedway was removed as Texas received a second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series date on the schedule.
Andy Hillenburg: On October 2, 2007, SMI put the track up for auction. Andy Hillenburg bought the track for $4.4 million. The track began hosting ARCA Racing Series events. In 2012, the NASCAR Truck Series made their debut at the track. Kasey Kahne drove a truck victory lane. The trucks returned in 2013.
In 2014, the NASCAR Truck Series did not return to the speedway. They cited ‘financial reasons’ in the announcement.
Farmers & Merchants Bank: Later that year, Farmers & Merchants Bank requested a court order to take over the track. They stated Hillenburg and the other owners owed $4.5 million to the bank.
BK Rock Holdings: On May 16, 2016 BK Rock Holdings purchased Rockingham Speedway. The cost was $3 million. The track has sat empty since the purchase.
It’s now been sold for around the same price that it was purchased for.