Work begins at North Wilkesboro Speedway, plans being finalized for Rockingham revamp

State - Regional

(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — North Carolina is known for its racing roots, including being the birthplace of NASCAR. Right now, there are at least two historic and dormant racetracks attempting to make a return with help from the state budget.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway and Rockingham Speedway were awarded $40 million when Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state budget last month. It’s a large chunk of money, but the hope is the improvements made to the speedways will draw more racing fans to North Carolina from across the country.

Rockingham Speedway will receive $9 million, and plans are being finalized on how to use that money to improve the historic facility in Richmond County. The track last hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2004 but continues to be on the mind of race fans.

“Our historical value has never faded, it has only grown, and with the reopening, it has grown even more,” said Justin Jones, vice president of operations at Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex.

Other than a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2012 and 2013, the speedway hasn’t hosted a high-profile race since the Cup series left. The facility has changed owners several times but found stable ground with new owners in 2018.

Jones was brought on board earlier this year and reminded the owners that the overall goal should be to bring back some type of major race event. Plans for the $9 million could give the track its biggest facelift in decades.

“We intend on repaving the track, putting brand new asphalt down. We intend on lighting up the big track as well as Little Rock,” said Jones.

Lights will give the facility built in the 1960s the first opportunity to schedule races at night. Plans also call for a connection to the county water and sewer system.

“Our intention is to bring back NASCAR as well as ARCA and SRX. Just good old-fashion racing. Good old-fashion tailgate-sitting, lawn chairs, coolers beside the lawn chairs,” said Jones.

That’s the same type of racing that was a staple at North Wilkesboro Speedway in Wilkes County. The track also has been mostly quiet since the final NASCAR Cup Series race in 1996.

Leaders at Speedway Motorsports, which currently own the facility, plan to use $18 million to spruce up the track to host future racing and special events. The track remains near and dear to racing fans’ hearts as the birthplace of NASCAR.

“Personally would I like to see racing back there? Yes. I was lucky enough to go to a lot of races at North Wilkesboro and Rockingham and places like that, said NASCAR historian, Ken Martin.

Photos posted on social media show that work has started at North Wilkesboro Speedway with several old buildings being demolished and cleared from the property. Speedway Motorsports has also started an official website for the track that allows fans to sign up for notifications about tickets to events at the speedway.

Leaders at Charlotte Motor Speedway are finalizing plans to spend $13 million dollars, but it’s expected some of the money will be used to revamp the fan concourse.

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