Most outsiders must have thought Rockingham Motor Speedway an optimistic proposition when it opened in 2001.
I know I was one of them. Oval racing isn’t the UK’s bag and there had been so many problems raising the money in the first place that the project’s originator, Peter Davies, took a digger and started work himself in 1998 so the planning approval didn’t expire.
But I also figured it didn’t matter: once it was up, it was up. Owners sometimes go broke and race circuits change hands. Awful for those involved, but for the race goer or track-day driver, not much changes.
Facilities might even get a bit better when someone new comes along. What these places don’t do is shut up shop completely, right?
Sadly, in Rockingham’s case, wrong. Its new owners have it earmarked as a car de-fleeting, preparation and auction house, and confirmed to the Northants Telegraph that circuit activity “will cease” at the start of next year. That, plus development potential at the Corby site, suggests that any future return to motorsport seems improbable at best.
Rockingham has been through various owners and financial strifes, so the decision reflects the realisation of people’s first fears: that it was somewhere about which locals would complain (including some, frustratingly, who’d moved to houses built after the track), that it was costly to run and that it supported a race format spectators weren’t interested in. The wrong place for the wrong track, in other words.