New Rockingham Speedway seek NASCAR race

With oval crowds dwindling, the new owners would do well to plow the oval under and build a road course on the 250-acre site. NASCAR fans pack the road course events and then IndyCar could race there too. The banking transtion on the current oval is to abrupt for IndyCars
With oval crowds dwindling, the new owners would do well to plow the oval under and build a road course on the 250-acre site. NASCAR fans pack the road course events and then IndyCar could race there too. The banking transition on the current oval is too abrupt for IndyCars

Rockingham Speedway is coming back to life writes Matt Weaver of AutoWeek.

The Rock Entertainment Complex, formerly North Carolina Motor Speedway, was purchased last month by Raleigh-based land developer Dan Lovenheim, who plans to renovate the venue into a multipurpose entertainment facility, including motorsports.

Speaking to SiriusXM NASCAR radio host Dave Moody on Friday night, Lovenheim said he intends to have the facility open every week for festivals, concerts and racing events.

In fact, he has already secured a 20-year contract to host the former Carolina Rebellion concert festival starting next May. That’s a major coup because the Carolina Rebellion has been the largest such event in the Carolinas.

Lovenheim hopes that by making The Rock a year-round entertainment facility, he will be better equipped to support occasional motorsport events.

"Our primary focus is on festival events and racing events," Lovenheim said. "We also have a whole host of events in many categories. We are encompassing a number of genres with the understanding that it's a flexible event complex space. Racing will be a fundamental part of this but it's not the only part we are relying on."

Lovenheim says he’s begun casual, exploratory conversations with NASCAR.

"At this early juncture, all doors and paths are open and on the table," he said. "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. In the next couple of months, that will be released and I can say that racing will be an integral part of the Rock Entertainment Complex's future."

The new track owner says his acquisition is in pretty good shape considering the passage of time. Rockingham has not hosted a motorsports event since the 2012 Camping World Truck Series season.

Rockingham suffered with crowd size as an oval, hence why it went bellyup
Rockingham suffered with crowd size as an oval, hence why it went bellyup

"Reasonable condition, all things considered, actually," Lovenheim said. "We are working to get the property up to a standard that is enjoyable for everyone for all types of entertainment … The first phase is a nice haircut. The power washing, painting, etc., etc. As we go, we are going to renovate and rejuvenate the entire structure. The entire plan taking about three years from top to bottom."

The reported sale of the facility is said to be 2.8 million dollars.

"It’s a 250-acre site, complete with the entire track, the facilities top to bottom," Lovenheim said. "If there were pens in the office, those are ours now."

And unlike say a North Wilkesboro Speedway, which saw a revival undermined by local politicians, the Richmond County officials have embraced and supported Lovenheim’s new endeavor.

"Our goal is to have nearly every week of the 52 weeks a year, filled with some kind of an event," he said. "All the neighboring communities seem to have an overwhelming positive view of that and the track coming back to life so to speak." Matt Weaver/AutoWeek

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