CHARLOTTE — Gov. Roy Cooper has proposed spending $30 million to make repairs to three racing speedways across North Carolina -- the birthplace of motorsports and NASCAR.
The proposal is part of the governor’s recommendation on how to spend the $5.7 billion the federal government has allocated to the state through the American Rescue Plan.
Cooper’s plan calls for $10 million to be allocated to each of the home counties of The Rock Speedway and Entertainment Complex (Richmond), the North Wilkesboro Speedway (Wilkes) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway (Cabarrus).
Those counties will then partner with the venues to fund any repairs, such as pedestrian walkway enhancements, speedway repaving, upgrades to facilities and dragways and grandstands.
“This pandemic brought us a once-in-a-generation challenge, and these funds have brought us a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Cooper said. “Let’s use them to make transformational change for our state.”
North Carolina hosted the first NASCAR Cup Series race at the Charlotte fairgrounds in 1949. The state is home to NASCAR’s headquarters and Hall of Fame, and 90% of teams are based in North Carolina.
The last time a race was held at the North Wilkesboro Speedway was 2011. The venue has continued to fall into disrepair since.
Motorsports is a leading tourism generator in North Carolina, representing a $5 billion industry, according to the state. The Charlotte Motor Speedway alone brought 1.1 million visitors to its events in 2019, and pre-pandemic, the speedway generated more than $25 million in state and local tax revenue annually.
However, between March and September 2020, Cabarrus County, home of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, lost over $24 million in hotel revenue partly due to the impacts of COVID-19.
The governor’s goal is to expand motorsports and outdoor event opportunities across the state. An additional $10 million would go to grants for other motorsports facilities and $5 million would go to develop, connect, and market new and existing natural and cultural tourism trails, including a Motorsports and Moonshine Heritage Trail.
The state expects the extra funds to help ensure all three speedways host at least five new outdoor events in the next three years.
The North Carolina legislature must approve the recommendations of Cooper’s plan before anything can be done.
(WATCH: Charlotte Motor Speedway opens gates to combat COVID-19 with vaccination clinic)
Cox Media Group