Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCCR) has developed a “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” to highlight the state’s unique history and culture and to instill a sense of pride and ownership of the lasting legacy in distilling and motorsports.
The announcement was made during a gathering of media, Richmond County community leaders and invited guests at the historic Rockingham Speedway and Entertainment Complex, which has been named one of the “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” sites.
The announcement of the Rockingham Speedway as the kickoff destination of the “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” delighted Jeff Smart, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners.
“The Rockingham Speedway and the adjacent Rockingham Dragway are valued assets for Richmond County,” said Smart. “To be recognized as a stop on this new and exciting “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” reinforces the historical role that Richmond County has played in the development of professional racing in North Carolina.”
As the state of North Carolina prepares to celebrate the vast and diverse collection of trails and destinations throughout the state with the 2023 “Year of the Trail” campaign enacted by the Governor and the General Assembly, the goals of the “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” are to increase economic development across the state, to honor North Carolina’s leadership and innovation in these fields, and to help rural communities thrive. The additional trail locations, which will span the entire state, will include authentic stories about racing, distilling, prohibition, rural life, agriculture, and recreation.
“We will place a special exhibit base at the Rockingham Speedway as one of the statewide stops on the ‘Moonshine and Motorsports Trail,’ highlighting it as one of racing’s storied and historic tracks,” said Secretary Reid Wilson of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Distilling grew out of the state’s rich agricultural and social history. And auto racing in North Carolina has grown from the occasional competitions among speed-hungry moonshiners during the 1930s to today’s multibillion-dollar industry that attracts legions of devoted followers across the nation and world.”
The trail will soon be identified with a specially inscribed marker that will be positioned beside “The Rock” alongside the track. Racing fans and tourists can learn more about this storied Piedmont venue and the history of the facility which has been so instrumental in the development of motorsports in North Carolina. Additional traveling exhibits will be unveiled throughout the statewide trail promotions during the year.
“The Rock” was introduced as the first exhibit of the Trail. And Justin L. Jones, director of public relations at the Speedway, couldn’t be more pleased.
“My goal when I first took this position was to rebuild the foundation of Rockingham in hopes of inserting Rockingham back in the foundation of NASCAR,” Jones said. “Today’s announcement is a big step in the right direction for Richmond County and its continuing growth.”
Jones presented ceremonial green racing flags to the attending state and community leaders signifying the start of the “race.” Smart also presented a custom Heritage Flag to Gov. Cooper to commemorate today’s announcement.
The Rockingham Speedway was one of seventeen motor sports venues to receive state grant funding from the Motorsports Relief Fund in 2022 as part of the COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery plan. The awarded grants will allow the venues to upgrade their facilities and to enhance the visitor experience.
Gov. Cooper stated, “Motorsports are part of the fabric of North Carolina, and they bring jobs, tourism dollars and enjoyment to millions. The relief funds are helping this industry get racing back to speed and spark the renewal of rural and urban speedways and stadiums across the state.”
Today’s “Moonshine and Motorsports Trail” announcement was welcome news to the track ownership and Richmond County’s government officials and Economic Development Corporation leaders, Bryan Land and Martie Butler, all in attendance for today’s kickoff function.
“We look forward to the revitalization of the Rockingham Speedway that Justin and his team are working on for the future,” said Land. “This is quite a designation from Gov. Cooper and the State of North Carolina to recognize the economic impact that this will have in our county.”