Rockingham Loses Its Big Race, Again

NASCAR's Truck Series won't be back to the track in 2014
At the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2012, the first NASCAR race at Rockingham in eight years, Andy Hillenburg thought he talked to somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 people. Hillenburg, an old racer himself, bought the track in 2007 and went to work to bring NASCAR back. After he and his small staff pulled off the 2012 race, Hillenburg was overwhelmed and tired. “I feel pretty good about it," he told me in the media center after the race. "Obviously, we’ll need a week or two to digest it because we don’t really have any fancy systems. It’s just a lot of hard work and hard effort from all of our staff. So it’ll take a week or two for us to even figure out what happened.” He had done the best he could with the knowledge he had, he said. If he got another chance from NASCAR, he knew he could do better.
Hillenburg won't get that chance, at least not in 2014. The Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter reports that the Truck Series will not return next year:

“We’ve got a number of issues that have to be resolved before we can host races again,” Hillenburg told The Observer on Thursday. “These issues have been mounting over the last two to three years.

“I’m not giving up on this. My plan is to keep doing it. I want it and NASCAR wants it and I’m determined to have it continue.”

Hillenburg apparently didn't elaborate on what those issues might be, but NASCAR had already canceled another even earlier this year, a K&N Pro Series East event, saying the track hadn't met financial obligations.

It's become fashionable to say the problem with NASCAR is that it grew too big too fast, and expanded away from its regional roots in the south to larger, more metropolitan markets that weren't as race crazy. That's partly the reason why Rockingham lost its cup race in 2004, when Bruton Smith ended up with the track and moved its only race to Texas. But now that NASCAR has returned and left again, it's apparent that a race in a place so rich in history might need more than nostalgia and hard work to succeed.

You can read more about that 2012 Truck Series race in my Charlotte magazine story: "Searching for the Soul of Stock Car Racing"

(Photo by Mark Sluder for Charlotte Magazine)

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