Rockingham track to be auctioned Oct. 2 UPDATE #2 Andy Hillenburg, a former racer who owns a driving school, submitted the winning bid of $4 million for the North Carolina Speedway when it went on the auction block today. Hillenburg has said that he wants to bring a lower-tiered racing event to the former NASCAR speedway. NASCAR abandoned the track in 2004.
10/01/07 “I’ve been doing this 30 years,” said William Bone, whose company is handling the auction, “and I’ve never seen it.”
What doomed Rockingham was the fact it is some 70 miles east of Charlotte, is more than a hour from the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh metro areas, and the Richmond County population is less than 50,000.
“We looked at it and tried to figure out what to do with it,” said H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports. “Nothing that we do fits there.”
While not surprising, closing of The Rock was tough, said Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin, who went to the speedway’s first race in 1965 when he was 9.
“I’ve actually got a program,” he said. “It hurts, no question about it.”
The loss “was more status and morale,” said Richmond County Manager Jim Haynes.
“We didn’t see the economic slap that we thought we might."
Bone, the auction company president, said he expects four or five serious bidders, most likely connected to the racing industry.
“What I’d hate to see is somebody tear it down and put up a subdivision,” he said. “To build this thing today, it would probably cost about $100 million.”
One potential buyer, Andy Hillenburg, runs a racing school in Harrisburg and said The Rock still could be used for racing. But Hillenburg also said the price may be too high for him.
The speedway is in good shape, he said, but all of the furniture and maintenance equipment is gone. The cost of replacing those items, as well as ongoing expenses such as utilities and taxes, could exceed the sale price, Hillenburg said.
“Not only do you need a pile of money to buy it,” he said, “but you need a pile of money to reopen it.”
If you spend too much on the purchase, Hillenburg added, “you’re going to have another auction in a year.”
“Am I the favorite? No,” he said. “Am I the sentimental favorite? Maybe. Am I going to be the richest guy there? Not even close.”
About ‘The Rock’
More than 40 years after its first race, the North Carolina Speedway – often referred to as Rockingham or “The Rock” – will be sold at auction at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Location: 2152 U.S. 1, about 10 miles north of Rockingham.
First race: Oct. 31, 1965, won by Curtis Turner.
Last race: Feb. 22, 2004, won by Matt Kenseth.
Track length: 1.017 miles.
Property size: 244.2 acres.
Excerpts from ThatsRacin.com08/08/07 The auction of North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., has been scheduled for Oct. 2, and the National Auction Group has been retained to hold the auction.
The track was bought by Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 2004 as part of SMI's settlement with NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. of a lawsuit originally filed to gain a second Nextel Cup date for Texas Motor Speedway. SMI decided to sell the track and its surrounding facilities earlier this year.
National Auction Group said in a news release that the track auction will be an "absolute auction, meaning that the raceway will be sold regardless of the high bid."
"This is an exciting project for us, to be selling a racing facility with such a rich and distinguished history," National Auction Group President William Bone said in a statement. "The property could remain as a racing facility or be utilized for any number of uses. In any case, we are optimistic that we can lure top quality bidders to this terrific event." Scenedaily.com