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North Carolina Speedway

North Carolina Speedway (formerly North Carolina Motor Speedway, often refered to as Rockingham) is a 1.017 mile oval with an infield road course. Banking is 22 degrees in turns 1 & 2 and 25 degrees in turns 3 and 4. 2004 was the last year of NASCAR oval racing, but the road course is still in service at a low level for club events, and apparently there is a kart circuit in the infield which is still in use.

The track was purchased at auction on October 2nd, 2007. The new owner has extensive plans to revive stock car racing at the facility.

NCS is located 10 miles north of Rockingham, North Carolina.

Thanks to Chris Fobbe for pointing me to the Ferko Lawsuit settlement.

Last Updated: 2007-10-21

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Track Facts

Elevation: 435 feet Latitude: 34.974683 Longitude: -79.610431 Time zone: EST/EDT (-0500/-0400)

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Historical Note

North Carolina Motor Speedway, aka "Rockingham", opened on October 31st, 1965, as a flat oval. The road course operated in the 60s, and reopened in 1989. The oval was extensively rebuilt in 1969 from a flat oval to 25 degree banking.

In 1997, NCMS merged with Penske Motorsports, and was renamed North Carolina Speeday. An extensive program of changes in the infield ensued, and the road course, previously used extensively by the SCCA and other clubs, was discontinued. Some say it was destroyed, but this was not true, as road course use resumed in 2005.

Penske subsequently sold his speedway operations to International Speedway Corporation, a business affiliated with NASCAR. One of the Cup races at Rockingham was transferred to the new California Speedway in 2004. Subsequently, a lawsuit (the "Ferko" Lawsuit) involving NASCAR, ISC, and shareholders in Speedway Motorsports ("SMI") was filed, and shortly thereafter settled, which sharply altered the state of affairs. As a part of the settlement, the second and last Cup date at Rockingham was transferred to Texas Motor Speedway. SMI purchased Rockingham, and agreed that there would be no NASCAR events there while the track was owned by SMI.

The ovals are currently being used by NASCAR teams for testing. The road course has been restored to a low level of operation in 2005 and is being used for Club Racing and Driver's Schools; the 2005 road course appears to be very similar to the original road course.

On October 2nd, 2007, the track was purchased at auction by "Indiana" Andy Hillenburg, who has plans to revive the track for stock car racing.

Track Office

North Carolina Speedway
2152 N Us Highway 1
Hamlet, NC 28345

Track Maps and Imagery

This map shows the original oval and road course:

A pdf may be found Here which shows the post-2005 road course.

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Getting There

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North Carolina Motor Speedway is located 10 miles north of Rockingham on US 1.

Hot Lap

A hot lap of North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) submitted by Chris W. Ingle - 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2003 Southeast Division T1 National Champion. You can get great in-car video of "The Rock" at Track Tapes.

Despite the NASCAR high banking and associated concrete walls, Rockingham is a relatively safe track with run-off room and "bail out" space in case you miss the turn into the infield.

The amenities of Rockingham are what you'd expect from a former NASCAR facility that hosted some of the best racing in motor sports - professional garages, paved paddock area, permanent admin buildings, great viewing/vantage spots, etc. It has obviously run down some over the years, but there are plenty of worse places you could be on the weekend!

Overall, The Rock is less than 2 miles long (with the infield road course) and bumpy. The infield course is very abrasive and will eat tires quickly. It's easy on brakes though. The infield portion is flat - no elevation change.

It helps to have a neutral to slightly tight (understeering) car here. A car that oversteers severely will find it very hard to go thru the corners quickly and your rear tires will be toast in just a few sessions. Top speeds are fairly low here due to the tight banking, but my T1 Vette still hits about 130 in a couple of places.

All shift points and approximate speeds are relative to my T1 prepared 2001 Corvette Z06.

Leaving the pits, you'll be using the hot pit lane just like the NASCAR guys used to do. Continue around the apron of the track (which is NASCAR's turns 1 and 2) until you come to the transition area from the oval to the infield. This is actually turn 3. Turn 3 is a fairly sharp, but increasing/sweeping radius left turn. You should be in 3d gear. Turn in smoothly and apex on the curbing on the left. Be very smooth with the throttle because, as stated before, the track is slick and it's easy to loop the car. Unwind the wheel as soon as you dare and track all the way out to the right applying all the power the tires and track will take. Manage that oversteer. Angle the car to the left side of the track to get set up for the next corner. Stay in 3d gear up to turn 4.

Turns 4 and 5 are a right "fish hook" of a turn and will send you back 180 degrees. It's a smaller version of Roebling's turns 1 and 2. The braking zone has a dip in the pavement. If you have ABS, you'll normally feel it pulsate. You'll hear the tires "chirp" here. If you don't have ABS, it's easy to lock the tires at this point. Trail brake the entry. I will normally 'rim shot' the entry, but be prepared to protect your inside line if necessary. The apex for this turn is far around the other side! Once you've turned in, on maintenance throttle and the car gets settled about half way round the corner, then squeeze the brakes just slightly to set the front tires and rotate the car - pointed at the late apex. Apply power, manage the oversteer, hit that apex curbing and track out to the edge. There is no curbing on the exit and it's easy to drop a wheel off if you get too enthusiastic with the skinny pedal! Remain in 3d gear down this short chute to turn 6. Check your gauges and mirrors.

Turn 6 is a fast right turn with a late apex. Nail the brakes as late as you dare on entry and rotate the car thru the entry. Get to the throttle quickly to stabilize the car thru the corner and hit that apex. The car grips pretty well, but is slick on exit. There is a very, very short area between turns 6 and 7, but experienced drivers will recognize this immediately and be able to floor the accelerator for just a split second before standing the car on its nose for turn 7. You'll be loose here, so be careful. You're still in 3d gear!

Turn 7 is a slow left hand turn which leads onto the NASCAR portion of the track. Since it leads to the longest full throttle run, it's the most important corner. Again, trail brake the entry and get to the gas quickly-but smoothly. Look for a late apex where the ARMCO and barriers are on the left. Apex as close as you dare to those and watch the oversteer coming out of the corner. You can apex the corner earlier if you care to, but you'll end up slamming the right front of the car into the NASCAR banking and possibly breaking something. A late apex is still fast, but much safer and will keep your car running for the whole weekend. You could also use 2d gear here, but you'll burn up the rear tires within a few laps. Exit the corner smoothly and make the transition onto the banking as early (and abrupt) as you dare keeping in mind that it can be a damaging transition if you're too early. For big, high powered cars, it's faster to use the banking on the exit. If the transition spooks you, and you're in a low powered car, just stay on the flat apron until the track evens out more.

Going down the front NASCAR straight toward turn 1, shift to 4th gear, check your mirrors and gauges, and keep it planted until your guts run out. Squeeze the brakes on the entry and enter the banking around half way up. Ensure you are on throttle when entering the banking - this loads the suspension and keeps the car planted.

As you have seen on TV, there are many, many ways to continue around the banking to the back straight; however, I still like to apex the corners. So, start dropping the car down lower and lower on the banking and look for a differently colored patch in the middle of turn 2. Put your left front tire over the patch, but keep it off the flat apron. Maintain maintenance throttle until this point and then began to roll the throttle down and track out as far to the wall as you dare. DO NOT LOOK AT THE WALLS!!!! Look where you want the car to go!

You'll still be in 4th gear and blasting down the back straight toward turn 3, which has as many entry variances as there are drivers. I personally like to stay up on the NASCAR surface, brake in a straight line and then heel-toe shift 4-3. Once I've scrubbed off some speed and in 3d gear, I'll turn left, get back on the throttle and drop the car down the decline and enter the infield portion. If you wait too late to drop down, the transition will be brutal. If you go too early, the different track surfaces will send your suspension dancing. Keep experimenting with different lines until you find one that not only feels good, but is easy on the car and fast too. It may be a compromise.

Once on the infield portion and the car settles from the transition, point the car at the turn-in for turn 3, stand the car on its nose and trail brake the entry for 3 again.

If for any reason, you miss your braking point on the NASCAR part of the back straight and don't feel you can make the turn, don't be a hero - just go straight thru the cones and rejoin the circuit back around at turn 7. Wait for the corner worker to wave you back on track though.

The Rock is a patience track. If you get in a hurry and try to exit the corners like a maniac and slide your car around too much, you'll fall to the back of the pack quickly. Mind your tires, control the oversteer and take the braking zones as late as you dare. It won't take more than just a few laps to learn the track, but it will take many laps to find out just how hard to abuse the tires. Keep your head and eyes up, be smooth and enjoy the ride!

Chris W. Ingle http://www.tracktapes.com


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