ROCKINGHAM — Hopes of the legendary Rockingham Speedway hosting the All-Star Race next year hit the wall Thursday.
While the full schedule for 2024 has not yet been released, NASCAR announced that the event would be returning to the recently revamped North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 19.
An article on the website BeyondtheFlag.com published two weeks ago had predicted that the All-Star Race would be moved to the Rock.
One idea behind the forecast was that it would be 20 years since Rockingham hosted a Cup Series race, when Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag.
NASCAR stayed away from the Rock until bringing the truck series in 2012 and 2013 — but hasn’t been back since.
“Like North Wilkesboro, Rockingham will get its ‘audition’ for the Cup Series with the All-Star Race, and should things go smoothly, the track could find itself with a points race in 2025,” Jack Gutzler wrote at Beyond the Flag.
However, Thursday’s announcement put the brakes on that idea.
The sanctioning body also revealed that the Pit Crew Challenge and a Craftsman Truck Series race would be at North Wilkesboro the same weekend.
The All-Star Race debuted in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is owned by Speedway Motorsports — the same company that owns North Wilkesboro.
The race moved to Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986, then returned to CMS from 1987-2019. Since then, the event has moved around to other SMI tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway in 2020; Texas Motor Speedway in 2021 and 2022; and North Wilkesboro in 2023.
SMI bought Atlanta in 1990, after it hosted the race, and Bristol in 1996; and built Texas Motor Speedway in 1996.
In 2004, SMI bought the Rock (then called North Carolina Speedway) and the track’s only remaining date was transferred.
With the recent passage of the state budget came a $4 million “transfer of projected interest earned from the State Fiscal Recovery Reserve” to SMI to host the All-Star Race.
This year’s budget also included a $2 million allocation for Rockingham Speedway for a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 1.
With the full schedule not yet released, there still is a chance NASCAR could return to the Rock next year.
Earlier this year, the RO conducted a poll to see when fans would like to see a race in Rockingham.
According to the results, 35% of the respondents picked the first weekend of May — currently held by Kansas Speedway — for their preferred race date.
Using the current NASCAR schedule as a guide, that would have the Cup Series in the Carolinas the entire month, with the following races at Darlington Raceway, North Wilkesboro Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Rockingham Speedway re-opened in 2021 and has hosted multiple motorsports events over the past three years, ranging from mini-stocks to drifting.
Left on the scheduled for this year are:
- Hops and Hot Rods at the Rock – Oct. 7
- National Auto Sport Association’s Speedtoberfest – Oct. 14-15
- MB Drift’s Halloween Havoc – Oct. 21-22
- Tailgate N’ Tallboys – Nov. 17-18