By John Trump
Carolina Journal News Service
RALEIGH — Lawmakers and the governor are moving bills and disclosing recommendations for using money from the American Rescue Plan, some $5.7 billion.
The N.C. Senate on Thursday, May 20, passed Senate Bill 172, which would, for example, allocate money for education, child care, and rental assistance, among its myriad provisions.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is seemingly reaching out to NASCAR fans by targeting $45 million toward expanding motorsports in North Carolina.
Of that money, $30 million would be allocated for infrastructure and repairs needed at the North Wilkesboro and Charlotte Motor speedways. The Department of Commerce would receive $10 million for a grant program for other motorsport facilities, the plans says, and the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources would get $5 million to develop, connect, and market new and existing natural and cultural tourism trails, including a Motorsports and Moonshine Heritage Trail.
NASCAR events were held at North Wilkesboro through 1996, but the series left after it was sold, returning to racing only briefly. The track has fallen into disrepair amidst community efforts to revive it. The final Cup race at Rockingham came in 2004.
“We’re very pleased to see Governor Cooper’s support of motorsports and statewide tourism in his new budget,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement, according to a story by NBC Sports. “Motorsports is a significant part of not only North Carolina’s past but also its future to create jobs and grow tourism.
“The proposed allocations from the American Rescue Plan can have a significant impact on renovating parts of Charlotte Motor Speedway as well as starting restoration efforts at North Wilkesboro,” the story says. “Our team at Speedway Motorsports will get to work on the best ways these funds could be utilized and we’ll watch closely as the proposals continue through the legislative session.”