Thursday, 07 March 2019 15:19

Cooper proposes $8 million for Rockingham Speedway in budget

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Gov. Roy Cooper has proposed $8 million from the state budget to go toward making repairs to Rockingham Speedway, which was purchased last August for $2.8 million. Gov. Roy Cooper has proposed $8 million from the state budget to go toward making repairs to Rockingham Speedway, which was purchased last August for $2.8 million. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — A reviving landmark in Richmond County could get a multi-million dollar injection from the state if it survives the budget process.

Gov. Roy Cooper has included $8 million for the Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex in his $25.2 million budget proposal.

It’s one of three recreational expenditures in state Rep. Ken Goodman’s district.

“I am particularly pleased he supports $8 million for the Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex, $166,000 for an all-inclusive park in Troy, and $500,000 for a tourism and marketing study in Albemarle,” Goodman, D-Richmond, said in a press release. “These much needed projects will help local businesses, tourism, and create local jobs.”

According to the governor’s budget message, the 10.5 million square foot complex “will be a world class events venue and attract additional investment and visitation to south central North Carolina.”

The state’s investment would help the speedway owners with: infrastructure, including wastewater and water extension; a pedestrian bridge; repaving the speedway; upgrades to speedway facilities and dragway; bathrooms; and Grandstand repairs/erosion control.

Cooper’s budget message said the construction and repairs “are vital to completing this $11.45 million project.”

A non-state match of at least $1 for every $3 from the state is required to receive these funds, according to the budget. State grants are subject to grant oversight requirements, including, but not limited to, providing a project description, signing a grant agreement, and reporting on the use of funds.

“I was ecstatic to see the $8 million included in the governor’s proposed budget,” said County Manager Bryan Land. “It just reiterates the statement that I have been making for many years.  The speedway & the dragway are not only tremendous assets for Richmond County but are as well for the whole region.  

“Obviously, Governor Copper feels the same way about rural North Carolina as I do personally, from the commitment of the amount of funding he is willing to invest in (Richmond County), he added. “To be clear, this isn’t a given yet, I am hopeful that the funds will gain legislative approval and we are able to keep the Rock rolling!”

Rockingham Properties LLC bought the former NASCAR track in August 2018 for $2.8 million.

The owners have put a lot of work into the speedway since purchasing it. On Jan. 10, Vice President For Events, Sales and Marketing Frank Bloom tweeted out a photo of Benny Parsons Tower with the lights on inside the pressbox. The RO also posted a photo on Facebook of the box lit up, which was well received.

The Rock garnered half the votes on a Twitter poll released in December 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.

Earlier that month, Bloom tweeted about the possibility of adding a dirt track to the half-mile course out back, which gained a lot of support.