Is The Rockingham Speedway Revival for Real?

Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham, NC — May 23, 2024

In May of 2019, The Lasco Press visited North Wilkesboro Speedway. We took many photos that, unfortunately, documented the deterioration of the facility since its last NASCAR Cup Series event in 1996. Fans clamored for a revival of the historic track. But, in reality, there was so much to be done that the financial feasibility of the venture did not make good economic sense.

Credit the group “Save The Speedway” for helping to keep the dream alive. Marcus Smith, the chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, LLC, which owns the track, committed to moving the revival forward if an investor could be found.

Making the Dream a Reality

The Speedway’s savior turned out to be the State of North Carolina. “In May 2022, Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Commerce announced that 15 local governments were awarded $45.8 million to help 17 motorsports venues recover from the pandemic. The money was used for public infrastructure and facility upgrades to the speedways.”

Wilkes County received $18 million of those funds for North Wilkesboro Speedway. This past weekend, they hosted the NASCAR All-Star Race for the second year in a row and announced the event will return again in 2025.

The second largest recipient of funds was Charlotte Motor Speedway with $13 million. Third on the list? Rockingham Speedway received a $9 million grant.

Reviving The Rock

Rockingham Speedway hosted its final NASCAR Cup Series race, the Subway 400, on February 22, 2004. Much like North Wilkesboro, the closing of the Speedway coincided with the race date being moved to newer, larger facilities. Rockingham’s place on the NASCAR Schedule went to Texas Motor Speedway.

In 2018, Rockingham Properties LLC, a Raleigh-based development group, purchased the former NASCAR track for $2.8 million, and a new dream was born. Before the grant from the State, the new owners made a serious commitment by doing a complete repave of the track. Private investments were well underway when the extra cash from the State of North Carolina appeared to move the process along at a faster rate.

So, Is the Revival for Real?

The answer is a resounding yes! After attending the Goodyear 400 at Darlington on May 12, 2024, we had some extra time before the NASCAR All-Star event at North Wilkesboro Speedway the following weekend. We decided to stop and take a look for ourselves.

Ready to Race at Rockingham / Lasco Press Photo

The ownership group could not have been more accommodating, allowing us full access to the facility. This is what we found. The track looks spectacular; it is smooth as silk from top to bottom. We could not resist taking a couple of hot laps. It is ready to race on tomorrow.

Rockingham’s smooth track and safer barriers / Lasco Press Photo

NASCAR has inspected the facility and referred the ownership group to a preferred vendor for installing safer barriers. Which has been completed in the corners. The grandstands look perfect. New aluminum rows with seat backs provide spectators with comfortable seating to watch events.

The infield garages have been rebuilt and will hold enough race cars to stage any NASCAR field size.

Papa Joe Hendrick Garage / Lasco Press Photo

There is a new media center constructed adjacent to the garages with ample space to house the traveling press.

The Chris Economaki Media Center / Lasco Press Photo

Just over a mile in length, the turns banked at 22 and 25 degrees, with nine degrees on the D-shaped oval straights. The infield is large enough to hold haulers and safety vehicles with enough room left over to provide campers with spectacular views of the track.

The front stretch at “The Rock” / Lasco Press Photo

The configuration of the speedway seems ideal for Craftsman Trucks, Xfinity Cars, and especially the Next-Gen Cup Series machines.

The 250-acre complex provides adequate parking and also includes an operating Drag Strip, road course, and smaller ovals outside the rear of the track ideal for quarter midgets, legends, and regional series events.

Part of the racing facilities at Rockingham Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

Work is ongoing and there are many more jobs to finish. However, if the call came today that said we want to stage a premier event at The Rock in 2025, the ownership has already proved fully capable of finishing the tasks.

The Lasco Press hopes to be covering events there next year and beyond. Can’t wait to see “Racing at The Rock.”

See more pictures from Rockingham Speedway on the Author’s Facebook Page.