Efforts underway to stave off foreclosure of Rockingham Speedway

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For the last several years, Andy Hillenburg and Bill Silas have put everything they had to resurrect and return Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway back to success.

For a while, things looked promising, including NASCAR bringing the Camping World Truck Series there in 2012 and 2013.

But financial difficulties – with more than $4.7 million in arrears – have left the track on the verge of foreclosure.

According to the Richmond County (NC) Daily Journal, attempts are underway to allow Hillenburg and Silas more time to avoid foreclosure.

Superior Court Judge David Lee has issued a temporary restraining order to give the track’s two co-owners additional time to reach agreement on a potential modification of terms with Farmers and Merchants Bank of Salisbury, N.C.

Bank attorneys claim Hillenburg and Silas took out a $550,000 line of credit on a $4.2 million loan in 2008. According to the Daily Journal report, the co-owners now owe $567,909 in principal and interest on the line of credit, as well as $3,964,886 they still owe on the initial loan.

In addition, the pair reportedly owes approximately $200,000 in Richmond County property taxes from 2011, 2012 and 2013, according to court filings.

“I get the sense that this is all going in the right direction, in a positive direction,” Lee said during a hearing Thursday. “I’m certainly going to have the court try to work with you.”

Lee added further, “If you’re asking me that you’re trying to resolve something … take as much time as you need.”

According to the Daily Journal,

“Court filings show that lawyers for the speedway’s owners had been in discussions with the bank’s attorneys to sell the 1.017-mile track at a private auction under a forbearance agreement that would halt F&M’s seizure of the speedway property.

“F&M Bank attorney David M. Schilli requested the order on behalf of the plaintiffs and said the restraining order could be extended “for a very brief period of time so that we can go back and draw up another order that will be tendered to the court with all the parties’ consent.”

The track is currently being operated by The Finley Group, a bank affiliate that Lee appointed on Sept. 8 as managing agent of the speedway and adjacent property.

Hillenburg and Silas are reportedly attempting to sell the speedway and surrounding property at auction, rather than face foreclosure.

“From what we are hearing, various auctioneers have indicated that they would not be surprised by a bid in excess of $5 million for the raceway,” Silas attorney Allen Armour wrote in an Aug. 12 email to the Daily Journal. “Accordingly, the Silas members feel that it is in the best interest of all parties to start the auction listing process as soon as possible.”

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Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.