ROCKINGHAM – It’s been a while since Rockingham Speedway has seen any racing.
To be more precise, the last race that was held at the 1.017-mile track was in 2013. Since then, nothing has happened to “The Rock” other than a change in ownership.
It saddens me both as a NASCAR fan and a Richmond County native to see our track sit in a field while its asphalt cracks, its infield grass overgrown, and its grandstands rust away. There hasn’t been a new name etched into the famous rock since Kyle Larson won in a NASCAR Truck race over four years ago.
There are many reasons why the track sits dormant, but I would like to talk about the reasons why it should not be.
One of the biggest complaints I hear in Richmond County is that there is nothing to do here. First, I don’t think that’s true. There are many things to do here, but you have to seek them out, and sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone and try new things.
Secondly, getting Rockingham Speedway up and running again would certainly give you something to do here. And when there is a big race going on, so is Thunderfest, so that makes two new things going on.
Plus, why not host smaller racing at the track? Folks will ask for NASCAR, but NASCAR won’t be back for at least another five years due to how it signs contracts with tracks, and that’s if the track can meet its standards.
But I see many who are not happy with today’s NASCAR, and would rather see local racing. Rockingham Speedway can give us that. Start small and work our way back up to NASCAR, and I don’t think we should shy away from inviting the ARCA series back, or even IndyCar. Bringing different series in would fill in more spots on the calendar.
Speaking of Thunderfest, which is usually an event held on the square in downtown Rockingham when NASCAR comes for a race at the Speedway, this helps the county economically. People from outside the county, the state, or even country, come to visit our little corner of North Carolina to watch a race. These people will spend their money here in our shops and use services we can provide. More money in the county means growth and more things can be done in the county.
Not a fan of racing? Did you know that the second Carolina Rebellion took place in Richmond County at the Speedway? The track can be more than just racing. Many other tracks do this. NASCAR races alone cannot keep these venues up and running. The track could hold outdoor concerts and other outdoor activities, which ultimately leads to even more things to do.
These are all great reasons and ideas for reopening the track, but this alone will not do it. First, the owner, Bill Silas, will have to do something. And the track needs the support of Richmond County.
The picture I have included in this article was taken by me during the last race at Rockingham. It proves we do have the support, but we need to be more vocal and we need to express it, especially before it’s too late.
I believe there is still hope for a reopen and for it to continue to stay open.