The doors are again swinging at Rockingham Speedway (formerly North Carolina Speedway) in Rockingham, North Carolina, and the ARCA RE/MAX Series is positioned to lead the charge through the gates.
Speedway President Andy Hillenburg has announced the ARCA RE/MAX Series will compete at the historic, high-banked, one-mile oval on Sunday, May 4th, 2008. The event has been named the “Carolina 500” and will be the inaugural event at Rockingham since Hillenburg took ownership of the property on November 1st, 2007.
“Racing has been gone from Rockingham way too long,” said Hillenburg, the 1995 ARCA RE/MAX Series driving champion and one of the few drivers to race in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
“We’re really looking forward to hosting the Carolina 500 and making this race one of the cornerstones of the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule as well as the marquis event for Rockingham Speedway.”
Hillenburg also announced that the event, spread out over three days, would feature the largest purse on the ARCA RE/MAX Series tour and the largest starting field with 50 cars in the line-up. The event will also include first- and second-round qualifying on Saturday, May 3rd, with a happy hour to follow Saturday afternoon. The race is scheduled to roll off at 12-noon local time Sunday afternoon.
“The script could not have been written any better,” said Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin. “History repeats itself when racing returns to Rockingham. We hope everyone will mark May 4th on their calendar. The welcome mat will be out.”
The ARCA RE/MAX Series will begin its 56th consecutive year of competition in 2008 while Rockingham Speedway will be reviving its race tradition that dates back to the mid-60s.
“We feel it’s a great honor to play a major role in reviving racing at Rockingham,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “Our company’s roots date back to 1953, so we appreciate the rich history and tradition associated with Rockingham. We intend to work with the track to establish the Carolina 500 as a major event, both for the track and on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule, for the long term.”
The ARCA RE/MAX Series raced at Rockingham Speedway once on June 10, 1973 where Charlie Glotzbach won the 300-mile event from the pole.
“I remember the race very well,” said Glotzbach from his home in Sellersburg, Indiana. “I was driving for Hoss Ellington. I remember getting a message from John (Marcum/ARCA founder) during the race that I needed to slow down or I’d get black-flagged. I guess I was muddying up his show too much. But I think it’s great that ARCA’s going back to Rockingham. It’s fast, and the track’s still in good shape. The track’s the right size for ARCA. It’ll be a great show.
“I’d like to come down there and run,” added the 69-year-old racer. “If I could get a Childress car, I’d do it; but it’d have to be a car that could win.”
Glotzbach is among the giants of stock car racing who have won at Rockingham since the track first opened more than 40 years ago.
Through the years, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series was the main attraction at Rockingham with 78 events up through 2004. Curtis Turner won the inaugural race at Rockingham on October 31st, 1965. The final event was held on February 22nd, 2004 during which Matt Kenseth held off a last-lap charge from Kasey Kahne by .010 seconds, recording one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history. Other winners at the “Rock” over the years include Fred Lorenzen, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliott, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin to name a few.
A joint venture between Darlington Raceway builder Harold Brasington and landowner Bill Land, North Carolina Speedway’s first race was held in 1965. Over time, the track came under control of L.G. DeWitt, a local trucking company executive who, in 1969, supervised reshaping the original flat mile track into the present, high-banked one-mile oval.
Fans can begin requesting ticket information on Wednesday, November 7th. For more info, contact Rockingham Speedway (910) 205-8800 or visit www.rockinghamracewaypark.com