Nonprofit hopes to turn Speedway into veterans center

No financing in place

By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage:
* Sept. 18: Bank seeks to take over track
* Sept. 25: Deal in the works?
* Dec. 26: Speedway most-read Post story of the year
* Dec. 30: Richmond County’s Stories of the Year
* Jan. 2, 2015: Deadline comes and goes, status still in limbo


WSOC-TV reports that a Vietnam veteran who now heads a nonprofit organization aims to turn Rockingham Speedway into a military veterans training center.

Craig Northacker, CPA executive director of, told the Charlotte television station that the former racetrack could become a transition center for soldiers exiting military service. is an organization that aims to assist American military service members from separation of service through stable, good-paying jobs. The idea is to rejuvenate the American economy through veteran leadership and labor, Northacker told The Pee Dee Post in September. At the time, he noted the close proximity of Camp Mackall and Fort Bragg.

The issue was the most-read story on in 2014. Through Dec. 25, a total of 47,713 readers logged on to to read about the Rockingham Speedway’s impending foreclosure.

Kevin Spradlin |

On Sept. 18, after no small amount of time perusing a case file — a public record — inside the Richmond County Judicial Center, The Pee Dee Post broke the story about the takeover of Rockingham Speedway.  Track co-owners Andy Hillenburg, of Harrsburg, N.C., and Bill Silas, of Stuart, Fla., owed $4,532,796.23 as of Aug. 8 and were due in Richmond County Superior Court a week later.

The speedway is situated on 244.24 acres. The land alone is valued at about $2.5 million. Hillenburg and Silas purchased the track for $4 million in 2007 from Speedway Motorsports Inc. at an auction that had fewer than 10 bidders. Hillenburg worked as the on-site manager to build and promote the sport of racing. NASCAR abandoned the track in 2004. Hillenburg worked to bring lower-tier racing back and, in 2012, brought back NASCAR truck racing — but it wasn’t the same, and the gate receipts demonstrated fans knew the difference.

The final blow to Hillenburg’s efforts might have come in October 2013, when NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series schedule was released sans Rockingham. One month earlier, NASCAR officials announced the the K&N Pro Series East series in November 2013 had been canceled.

Northacker certainly seemed to be a part of the discussion on Sept. 25 inside the Richmond County Judicial Center. The man sat alone inside the courtroom appearing confident he would eventually be asked to be a part of the closed-door discussion. That’s exactly what happened.

A Jan. 1 deadline came and went. Still no deal and no word from anyone on what, if anything, might be happening.

Northacker has declined to comment to the Post since September. Monday’s interview with WSOC appeared to be his first on the subject of Rockingham Speedway since September. The WSOC report noted there is no financing in place, and that local officials seem skeptical.

In October, Northacker told the Post via email that “we are working hard behind the scenes to take care of the myriad of organization details essential to the success of our programs. I expect for us to be able to make some announcements fairly soon.”


Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors, Sports

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