North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proposes that state sends $8 million to help fund The Rock Speedway; Joey Logano comments
Dan Lovenheim led a group of Charlotte, North Carolina residents in the bid of Rockingham Speedway in 2018. They’ve been cooking up big plans in the last couple years.
Several months ago, Lovenheim spoke to Sirius XM NASCAR Radio about his plans. He stated, “At this early juncture, all doors and paths are open and on the table. We are in discussions with NASCAR. We are in discussion for several events. At this point, unfortunately, I cannot be specific for what, when and how.”
Now, some of those plans have come to light.
“Well, we are just going to let this one announce itself. As I have said before, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we know how we are going to get there,” Rockingham Speedway said on the informal announcement.
Roy Cooper presents plan for investment in The Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex
Total funding for the new Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex is estimated at $11.45 million.
Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Governor has asked the state to give $8 million for improvements to the NC race track. In addition, the facility will see a name change to The Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex.
The Governor presented his plans calling the complex a “world class events venue and (to) attract additional investment and visitation to south central North Carolina.”
The budget for the Rockingham Speedway rebuild requires that for every $3 the state invests, $1 much be added in non-government funding. In total, that makes the development a project of $11.45 million.
The Governor listed a temporary plan regarding development. He noted changes included a “wastewater and water extension, a pedestrian bridge, repaving the speedway, upgrades to speedway facilities and dragway, bathrooms, and Grandstand repairs/erosion control.”
Joey Logano talks The Rock Speedway
Joey Logano is now the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion driver. The champ has run seven NASCAR Truck Series races in his career. His second one came at The Rock in 2013. He ran for Brad Keselowski Racing and finished 2nd.
He’s also run a single ARCA Racing Series event as the speedway. But, with the nearby location to Charlotte, he’s run countless test sessions at the track.
Lee Spencer: Do you think that would be a viable location to go back to for NASCAR?
“Absolutely,” Joey Logano stated..
“I think Rockingham is one of the best race tracks there is. With the surface the way it is — And I haven’t been there in a few years, so I don’t know if over the winters that it’s worn out more?”
“You had these huge swells that were in the center of the corner. The car would go up and down, kinda like Atlanta. You had a surface that was so wore out.”
“You could run the top, the bottom. There’s just no grip. Anywhere you looked, there was no grip. And, that was fun.”
“It was hard to test. You asking, ‘Was it the change or was it the tires wearing out?’ You couldn’t ever figure out what’s what.”
“But, the racing was so much fun. The cars, some where fast in the short run and some were good on the long run. Boy, I loved it.”
Everything mentioned above, refers to the track surface itself making the racing great in Rockingham, North Carolina. However, the above plans mentioned a repave of the facility.
“Don’t do it. No, don’t resurface,” Logano urges.
“I don’t know if that goes all the way to the new owners. But, don’t repave it. You gotta start all over. It’s cool the way it is.”
North Carolina government funding of sports teams and other unrelated nationwide projects
$8 million might sound like a lot of money. But, in terms of race track development at a large scale it’s less than minimal. ISM Raceway spent $178 million just to redo their pit area, move the grandstands and adjust the position of the flag stand.
$178 million might also sound like a lot, until you look at the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams are in the process of building a new stadium in Inglewood. The development costs for were proposed at $2.6 billion. It’s now estimated to be just under $5 billion.
In 2016, Mecklenburg County announced a $24 million plan to build a new soccer stadium in the Charlotte area. The county was in for $8 million, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority was in for another $8 million and the Independence soccer team was set to cover the remaining $8 million.
In 2017, Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports announced a plan to try and bring MLS to Charlotte, North Carolina. He wanted to build a 20,000 seat stadium with the help of tens of millions in CRVA funding. That deal fell through.
In December 2017, the now $32 million dollar Memorial Stadium rebuild was approved by the county. As part of the plan, the county would pay for all of the rebuild. They would also maintain full control of the stadium.
The Epicenter: The Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex
The Rock hosted it’s last NASCAR event in 2013. That year, the speedway saw a brief return of the NASCAR Truck Series.
Recently, the complex is showing that it can be far more than strickly a racing facility. With land and parking available, the track as a festival complex built in by default.
On May 10-12, 2019 the Epicenter will head to Rockingham. It’s a three-day music festival that will bring 70 bands to the complex on Mother’s Day weekend. Notable artists that will attend: Foo Fighters, Judas Priest, Korn, Evanescence, Tool, Bush and Rob Zombie.
The Epicenter is expected to draw 110,000 fans to the city of 8,860 residents (2005 census). It’s expected to bring $40 million in economic impact to the area.