Raleigh investors buy The Rock, promise plans will be ’remarkably encompassing’

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer
Gavin Stone | Daily Journal The Rockingham Speedway has been sold to a group of investors from Raleigh who have yet to outline what they wish to do with the track, although rumors abound. This photo was shot Thursday night, with the remains of the old Speedway sign in the foreground.
Gavin Stone | Daily Journal Papers filed at the close of business Thursday make the sale of the speedway official.

ROCKINGHAM — The Rockingham Speedway has a new owner.

Rockingham Properties LLC, of which Raleigh bar developer Dan Lovenheim is majority owner, bought the Speedway from the Florida-based BK Rock Holdings, managed by Billy Silas, for $2.8 million. The deal was made final at 4:05 p.m. Thursday.

Lovenheim declined to provide details on plans for the property Thursday afternoon, describing them only as “remarkably encompassing.”

The property is valued at $2,993,324, according to Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson, down from $6.85 million when it last went up for sale in November 2016. Jackson said the value decreased because key portions of the original structure no longer remain, and the fact that the track has not been used for many years and the wear and tear associated with that.

A decline in property value has been a concern for its neighbor across the street, the Rockingham Dragway, said owner Steve Earwood. The purchase will be good for the dragway and the county, he said.

“I look forward to having them as neighbors,” Earwood said. “And it’ll be great to see that the grass is being cut.”

Iron Horse Properties brokered the deal over several months after being contacted by a representative of the eventual buyers, according to Marc Baysek, broker in charge for Iron Horse. Baysek said the deal closed ahead of schedule.

Riley Puckett, longtime caretaker of the Speedway, said he was “glad it’s over with.”

“I’m happy for the ones that purchased it and happy for the one that sold it,” Puckett said, referring to his friend, now-former owner Silas. “I tried to look over it the way I would like somebody to look after it if it was mine.”

Lovenheim is best known for owning several popular bars in Raleigh, including the Cornerstone Tavern and Capital City Tavern. He has been an outspoken critic of efforts to tone down Raleigh’s bar scene and made news this summer for his parking practices with his white Lamborghini.

The News & Observer reported in June that the Raleigh City Council voted to remove the valet zone in front of the popular night club Alchemy — which Lovenheim owns — after repeated complaints about his white Lambo’s using the zone as a free parking space during the day.

The Rockingham Speedway opened in 1965 and was a significant draw to the area for nearly 40 years. But it has not held an event since a Camping World Truck Series race in April 2013. It since has changed hands multiple times, with Silas’s being the most recent owner.

A wave of nostalgia for the Speedway’s heyday has swept the area of late as signs have been cleared to make way for an expansion of U.S. 1. Earlier this month, Puckett took a backhoe to the plaster street sign, which prompted a mad dash to preserve the history that involved the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Petty.

“I watched my dad (Richard) and all the greats race at Rockingham,” Petty said in an email. “I was very fortunate and blessed to race there and have some success.

“I’ve seen so many tracks in my lifetime come and go, but Rockingham will always hold a special place in my heart.”

A few days after the sign fell, a crew removed a granite marker denoting a parking lot as “Darrell Waltrip Blvd.” in honor of the driver’s accomplishments at the track.

In July, the Charlotte Observer reported that several NASCAR stars were tweeting back and forth about their “dream tracks” that no longer held events. Kasey Kahne, who lost to Matt Kenseth by one of the tightest margins in NASCAR history at the last Sprint Cup Series race at the Speedway in 2004, tweeted “The Rock” as his dream track.

Gavin Stone | Daily Journal The Rockingham Speedway has been sold to a group of investors from Raleigh who have yet to outline what they wish to do with the track, although rumors abound. This photo was shot Thursday night, with the remains of the old Speedway sign in the foreground.
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_speedway-1.jpgGavin Stone | Daily Journal The Rockingham Speedway has been sold to a group of investors from Raleigh who have yet to outline what they wish to do with the track, although rumors abound. This photo was shot Thursday night, with the remains of the old Speedway sign in the foreground.

Gavin Stone | Daily Journal Papers filed at the close of business Thursday make the sale of the speedway official.
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_speedwaysecondary.jpgGavin Stone | Daily Journal Papers filed at the close of business Thursday make the sale of the speedway official.
Plans will be ’remarkably encompassing’

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]