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Short-track comeback for Rockingham Speedway?

First Posted: 4:45 am - December 16th, 2015

By William R. Toler - wtoler@civitasmedia.com



Shawn Stinson | Civitas Media The green flag waves, signaling the start of a race at Rockingham Speedway to a less-than-packed house.
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ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Stock cars are slated to race ‘round the 1.017-mile track at Rockingham Speedway in the fall of next year.

The historic raceway is listed with an Oct. 15 date — which includes an awards banquet — on the Super Cup Stock Car Series’ 2016 racing schedule.

According to its website, series officials are finalizing a television broadcast package Sopwith Productions, a company that produced shows for SCSCS during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. A formal announcement on the deal is expected in January.

“The process of creating this package has brought several exciting unexpected new opportunities to factor into the long-term future direction of SCSCS,” reads an undated announcement on the site. “As indicated in the rough schedule outline, the most notable is Rockingham Speedway which has approached SCSCS.”

The schedule also features a race at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio and two races at Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania, though a disclaimer shows it is subject to change without notice.

“At this time, we are not able to elaborate on further details in addition to what has been provided on the series website,” Aaron Creed, public relations coordinator, said in a Saturday night email.

This will be the first event held at “The Rock” since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in April of 2013.

Last year, Farmers and Merchants Bank began foreclosure proceedings against speedway owners Andy Hillenburg and Bill Silas, accusing them of defaulting on a $4.2-million loan.

A judge signed a consent order in October between the speedway’s owners and the bank to find a new owner or arrange an auction by Jan. 1 of this year. The order stipulated that a sale or auction was to take place by March 15.

That date came and went with sources as silent as the speedway itself.

No court documents have been filed in the case since last December.

The Daily Journal learned Friday the bank assigned the lien to BK Rock Holdings, a limited-liability company based in Stuart, Florida.

Records show the managing agent of the company to be Alan I. Armour II, an attorney who represented Silas last year. The company’s address is also the same as Palm Beach Grading, a business founded by Silas in 1996.

According to county documents, the speedway is still owned by Rockingham Raceway Park, LLC.

Telephone messages left for Hillenburg and Armour on both Friday and Monday have yet to be returned.

The track opened in 1965 as North Carolina Motor Speedway and was a stock car staple for nearly 40 years.

The final Sprint Cup Series race at the speedway was Feb. 22, 2004, when Matt Kenseth edged Kasey Kahne at the line by .01 of a second in one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

After changing hands several times since 1997, the property was purchased in 2007 by Hillenburg and Silas.

Starting in 2008, “The Rock” hosted several lower-tiered races, including the ARCA Carolina 500 and the USAR American 200.

Rockingham Speedway was scheduled to host the K&N East Series season-ending race in the fall of 2013, but NASCAR officials announced the event was canceled because “the track failed to meet its obligations and we were forced to terminate the sanctioning agreement.”

A month later, “The Rock” was left off the 2014 truck series schedule.

Although Richmond County officials and race fans would like to see NASCAR return to the area, it doesn’t seem likely over the next four years.

Two months ago, NASCAR announced that it had made agreements with 23 tracks for the Sprint Cup Series and 24 tracks for the Xfinity series — with Rockingham nowhere to be found — through 2020.

Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler

Shawn Stinson | Civitas Media The green flag waves, signaling the start of a race at Rockingham Speedway to a less-than-packed house.
http://thecherawchronicle.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/web1_Rock_flag.jpgShawn Stinson | Civitas Media The green flag waves, signaling the start of a race at Rockingham Speedway to a less-than-packed house.

By William R. Toler

wtoler@civitasmedia.com

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