Local News

Rockingham Speedway Purchased for $4 Million

Posted October 2, 2007
Updated October 7, 2007

— The nearly abandoned North Carolina Speedway has a new owner.

Andy Hillenburg, who competed in 16 NASCAR races and finished 28th in Indianapolis 500 in 2000, submitted the winning bid Tuesday – $4 million. His bid was one of fewer than 10 submitted.

Hillenburg, owner of a high-performance driving school in Charlotte, is trying to bring lower-tier NASCAR races to the track known as The Rock, which NASCAR abandoned in February 2004. He said he hopes to have engines revving at the track for the first race within 13 months.

"We'll definitely have racing here," Hillenburg said. "We'll have some driving schools. We'll have some movies and commercials, and have a few legends races and hopefully be an important part of the community. And that's the thing. I want to be a part of it. I want to be a part of this community. I love this sport a lot, and I want to make a difference."

Hillenburg plans to move his family to Rockingham from Charlotte by Christmas.

The speedway was put up for auction by Speedway Motorsports Inc., whose chairman is Bruton Smith. Speedway Motorsports owns tracks in Concord; Atlanta; Fort Worth, Texas; Bristol, Tenn.; Las Vegas; and Sonoma, Calif.

"Today is a win for Rockingham. No question about it," said Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin. "It's a win for this community. And I'll tell you what else. It's a win for race fans, too."

The North Carolina Motor Speedway opened in 1965 as a flat, one-mile track. It was reconfigured to a D-shaped oval in 1969.

North Carolina Motor Speedway merged with Penske Motorsports in 1997. The track was renamed North Carolina Speedway and held two NASCAR Nextel Cup races a year through 2003.

In 2003, the speedway was sold to International Speedway Corporation. One of its Nextel Cup races was given to ISC's California Speedway.

The track held its last race in 2004.

Since then, the speedway has been as a testing track and often a movie set. Scenes from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and Days of Thunder were shot at the speedway.


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  • yukonjohn3 Oct 3, 2007

    If my memory serves me right, the "old" Rockingham track was a few miles south of the current track. It was an old dirt 3/8 mile or so track with rickety wooden bleachers. I can still smell the oil and smells from those days. My Dad and my uncles used to take me there on Saturday nights to watch "Winding" Wayne Andrews and Big John Sears and those old drivers duke it out. John Sears continued to race even at the Rock after it was built. I was so lucky to get to go to the first and last race at the Rock. NASCAR was so different back then. Brian France, you and Mike Helton have destroyed the NASCAR that we grew up loving!! SHAME ON YOU BOTH!! God Bless you Andy Hillenburg from a NASCAR fan of 45+ years.

  • haggis basher Oct 3, 2007

    Why was the track built there in the first place? I've driven at the Drag racing track and it would fun to have a whirl around the oval!

  • ThatsRight Oct 3, 2007

    Nascar has become a joke. Brian France and Mike Helton couldn't manage a petting zoo.

  • Nobody but Carolina Oct 3, 2007

    I'm not a Nascar fan, but I've always it would be smart for Nascar to have a few open dates during the season and rotate through the tracks that they've left on a permanent basis.

  • likemenow Oct 3, 2007

    RE:"Wish I would have known about the sale I would have placed my bid, 4mil was a great buy."....no kidding...you would think that the land alone would be worth far more than that...

  • lucky22 Oct 3, 2007

    Thank you Andy for what you did. NASCAR has forgotten it's root's. I do watch racing and I think NASCAR leaving "The Rock" was the wrong thing to do. They talk about not selling the races out but they could have moved the race dates, espically the one in Feb. You can't spend 2 weeks in Daytona and then expect to come to NC and have perfect weather. I wish Andy all the luck in the world. I think some of the current cup driver's should get in on the action and support the racing at Rockingham. God know's the community could benefit from the income racing generates.

  • iwondersometimes Oct 3, 2007

    I knew Andy when I worked in the NASCAR arena and I am sure he will make Rockingham a success. A great guy. I agree with the posts about the sport...all about glamour and commercials now, I quit watching it completely and don't care who is who anymore. Most real race fans are leaving NASCAR because they are tired of being ignored. NFL and NBA did this a long time ago, just never thought NASCAR would dump on the people who were so loyal to the sport. So good luck, Andy, leave Bruton and company in your dust!

  • mrtwinturbo Oct 3, 2007

    Wish I would have known about the sale I would have placed my bid, 4mil was a great buy.

  • yukonjohn3 Oct 2, 2007

    God Bless you Andy Hillenburg. I will come all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska to see more races at the Rock!! I am one of the few fortunate ones that went to the First and Last race at the Rock!! My Daddy took me there to see Curtis Turner win the First American 500. I took my girlfriend from Alaska to see the last race there. I went to MANY races between these times and I will go again. SHAME ON YOU NASCAR and Mike Helton and Brian France. Brian, your Daddy and Granddaddy are probably rolling over in their graves with the sorry way you have run NASCAR. Again, GOD BLESS you Andy Hillenburg!!!

  • still big Oct 2, 2007

    Very true,Hip-shot. The sport that was is no more. Sad.