ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s landmark racetrack remains popular among NASCAR fans, according to a recent poll.
Rockingham Speedway garnered half the votes on a Twitter poll released Thursday by NASCAR on NBC asking at which historic track fans would rather NASCAR return. The other two choices were North Wilkesboro or Nashville Fairgrounds.
Out of 5,913 total votes, The Rock garnered 50 percent of the vote, while Wilkesboro and Nashville received 26 and 20 percent respectively.
“The Rock has always been a fan favorite,” Frank Bloom, vice president of events, sales and marketing for the speedway, told the Richmond Observer Friday. “We appreciate that continued support and look forward to seeing everyone in 2019 when we start producing events of all shapes and sizes — and yes, even some involving fast motors.”
The speedway was purchased by Rockingham Properties, LLC earlier this year for $2.8 million.
Bloom said the ongoing focus this winter is heavy-duty cleanup — including repairs and repainting — which was mentioned in a tweet that included a photo of the “Thunder Alley” backstretch earlier this week. That tweet had 225 comments and 363 retweets whicher were overwhelmingly positive.
While many Richmond County residents and other racing would fans have expressed their wishes to have a cup series race at The Rock, not everyone has a positive outlook.
Driver Kenny Wallace said the location makes it less desirable.
“Rockingham is my favorite track and my last @nascar win.. BUT NO ONE lives around Rockingham, It’s in the middle of no where.. Nashville is at the cross roads of EVERY interstate and a lot of entertainment..,” he tweeted Thursday.
Bloom, who runs the speedway’s Twitter account fired back: “True… but we also get to be as loud as we want to be out here @Kenny_Wallace and last time i checked, everyone has cars &drives to races (unless you live ON IT) AND we are getting a new 5 lane highway on US 1 here 😉 pretty sure people will travel for what we are cooking up.”
County Manager Bryan Land has also been less than optimistic about NASCAR’s return.
“Racing has changed so much over the years,” he said in early December. “We have as many folks at a Richmond-Scotland football game as a good percentage of the NASCAR races have now.”
That’s why, he added, the county and speedway owners are looking at other opportunities to bring in visitors, including the Epicenter music festival — featuring Foo Fighters, Korn and Judas Priest — slated for May across the road at Rockingham Dragway.
Land said he wants people to realize the potential for the economic impact of these different events instead of focusing on NASCAR.
“The ship for NASCAR has sailed,” he said.
An email sent to NASCAR asking about the possibility of race returning to Rockingham was not answered by the time this article was published.