North Carolina Proposes $10 million to Rockingham, North Wilkesboro05/19/2021
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has pledged $10 million dollars to both Rockingham Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway as part of the state’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan.
The state will receive $575 million from the federal government and Cooper intends to use it to address housing needs in the aftermath of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional funds will be allocated to education needs, infrastructure and broadband expansion to close the digital divide, and providing clean drinking water to communities in need.
“This pandemic brought us a once-in-a-generation challenge. And these funds have brought us a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Cooper said. “North Carolina’s funding from the American Rescue Plan positions our state for a shared recovery and allows us to create a North Carolina that works for all.”
The plan is pending approval by the state’s legislative body. It’s worth noting that the Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers worked in unison last year when agreeing over how to spend $3.6 billion in coronavirus relief funds.
Part of the plan as outlined by North Carolina Budget Director Charlie Perusse will also address sports and entertainment facilities with $30 million combined going to Rockingham, Wilkesboro and Charlotte Motor Speedway to the tune of roughly $10 million each.
Short tracks across the state would also receive $10 million split across each of the approved facilities.
“We know that motorsports is a $5 billion industry in North Carolina and we’re the proud home of NASCAR,” Perusse said. “This recommendation builds on this by providing $30 million or $10 million each for repairs and infrastructure at the three largest NASCAR tracks in North Carolina — The Rock, North Wilkesboro and Charlotte Motor Speedway.”
The plan also calls for $5 million to develop and market what the state is calling a motorsports and moonshine heritage trail.
Charlotte Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro Speedway are both owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. Wilkesboro has been the subject of revitalization talks in recent weeks with SMI president and Chief Operating Officer Marcus Smith unprovoked telling Dale Earnhardt Jr. that the company hasn’t given up on Wilkesboro.
North Wilkesboro Speedway hasn’t hosted a NASCAR event since 1996. A series of revival events featuring Late Models and Modifieds took place in 2010 and 2011.
Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis, who is opening a Gander Mountain store in the region, has also pledged a million towards revitalizing NASCAR’s once-oldest track and has expressed interest in building a store on the property.
“We’re very pleased to see Governor Cooper’s support of motorsports and statewide tourism in his new budget,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “Motorsports is a significant part of not only North Carolina’s past but also its future to create jobs and grow tourism. The proposed allocations from the American Rescue Plan can have a significant impact on renovating parts of Charlotte Motor Speedway as well as starting restoration efforts at North Wilkesboro. Our team at Speedway Motorsports will get to work on the best ways these funds could be utilized, and we’ll watch closely as the proposals continue through the legislative session.”
The Rock Entertainment Complex is now owned by Raleigh based land developer Dan Lovenheim. The property has courted numerous festivals and concerts, hosting The Epicenter festival in 2019. The speedway will host the CARS Tour Late Model Stock season finale in November.
It hasn’t hosted a NASCAR event since a Truck Series and ARCA race in 2012.
The allocation proposal is just that and is subject to state legislature approval in the coming months.
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