Monday, January 19, 2015

Buyer Surfaces For Rockingham Speedway, Racing's Future Remains Unclear

Rockingham's Andy Hillenburg 
There could be light at the end of the tunnel for embattled Rockingham Speedway, but there are still more questions than answers.

WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC, is reporting today that a veterans’ charity has confirmed plans to purchase the historic speedway and convert it into a Veterans’ Reintegration Center. WSOC’s Allison Latos quoted Help-Vets.Org Executive Director Craig Northacker as saying his organization is seeking financing for a projected $50 million project that would construct housing on site, along with educational and vocational components.

Speedway owners Andy Hillenburg and Bill Silas have attempted to resurrect Rockingham for racing, but narrowly avoided financial receivership in late 2014.

They purchased the speedway in 2007 for $4 million, but as of August 8, owed $4,532,796.23 to F&M Bank on a 244-acre site valued at approximately $2.5 million. A judge allowed them until Jan. 1 to either assemble a new financing plan or sell the property
In mid-October, Hillenburg confirmed the existence of a potential investment group, now believed to be Help-Vets.Org.

“They are not racers,” said Hillenburg at the time. “They are businesspeople who know my reputation and work ethic, and see an opportunity to create new partnerships  that will prove beneficial to all parties, allow Rockingham Speedway to survive and prosper as a racing facility and produce critical economic development opportunities in Richmond County,”

Northacker said he has met with a potential financing group, as well as JP Morgan Chase and Royal Bank of Canada in an attempt to secure $50 million in financing for the project. He said he hopes to close on the property in March.

WSOC also reported that Northacker has met with Richmond County Community College about using the speedway as an off-campus educational site. RCC spokesman Andy Cagle confirmed those talks, telling WSOC, "RCC has always taught classes in off-campus locations across our service area, and would welcome any viable opportunity to support our veterans, the local economy and continue the rich traditions of racing in Richmond County."

Richmond County Manager Rick Sago said he is troubled by the lack of a finalized financing plan, as well as the apparent absence of a racing component in Help-Vets.Org’s proposal.

"It is a speedway,” said Sago to WSOC. “It has been since the ‘60s and that's what we want is a racetrack," Sago said.

Hillenburg declined to comment when contacted earlier today.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:25 AM

    I have to say that my trip to Rockingham for a race many moons ago now rates as a personal highlight to my NASCAR track travels. (we never did get all the pine needles out of our trunk though from where we parked...over near the airstrip) I didn't find it clear if there was any intent by this charity to actually continue I don't know if there's any GOOD part to this story (though if it helps vets that's great)

    A charity whose name is a URL (and a URL that doesn't even open) isn't a great sign of impending success at securing financing for a fairly large undertaking. This is a that's seemingly a different organization.

    So thinking this is unfortunately not good news for racing in anyway if good news for anything :-(

    But hoping this works out...Andy needs a good outcome for all his hard work at bringing racing to the Rock.